American Andrew Ogletree became the first player to win two International Series events when he recorded a convincing victory today in the US$2.5 million International Series Qatar, at Doha Golf Club.
The impressive 24 year old from Mississippi closed with a one-over-par 73 to finish on seven under and win by three shots from Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul, who fired a 68, helped by an eagle on the par-five 18th.
Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai finished one shot back in third following a 72, while his compatriot Phachara Khongwatmai returned a 67 to claim fourth, another stroke behind.
Ogletree, who won the International Series Egypt in November and has two wins in just nine starts on the Asian Tour, started the day with a five-shot lead and was never really challenged, when for the fourth day in a row strong wind were unrelenting.
At the turn his lead was six and while a double bogey on hole 10, where he was unable to get up and down after an errant second shot went long and left, briefly offered some hope to his pursuers, he proceeded to steady the ship with seven pars and a birdie on the last.
“I think it just comes from all the work that I’ve put in,” said Ogletree, who won US$450,000.
“I’ve worked really hard this offseason post Egypt, and just have a lot of confidence because I work so hard. I don’t think anyone wants it more than me. I want to keep giving myself more opportunities and this is the route that I can do that. So, I’m really focused, and trying to win the Order of Merit out here is my number one goal this year, and that’s all I’m really focused on. And you got to win to do that, so this feels great.”
Ogletree moved to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) and International Series OOM thanks to an outstanding start to the season. He finished ninth in the season-opening PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers and tied for seventh in last week’s International Series Oman.
“I mean, confidence wise, I don’t know how I could get a lot higher. My last five starts internationally, four top-10s and two wins, so I think I’m playing really good golf,” he said.
“I’m executing my game plan really well and kind of eliminating some of the silly mistakes. I had a couple today, but throughout the week this week it was really good tee to green.
“Eliminating three putts, eliminating short-sided iron shots, eliminating bogeys with wedges and eliminating bogeys on par fives is just kind of the goal. So that’s how I define how I’m playing, if I’m doing those things, and I’ve done that really well the last few weeks.”
It’s all a far cry for a player who, hindered by a hip injury, struggled to make an impact when he turned professional in 2020 following a stellar amateur career.
The former Georgia Tech college golf star reached the pinnacle of the amateur game in 2019 when he won the US Amateur, and that same year was part of the victorious United States team at the Walker Cup.
He said: “Yeah, I mean, obviously, just being able to play pain free is awesome. I’ve had a really good run the past few months, my body has felt great. I’ve never lost my confidence mentally. But now that I’m getting some reassurance from my body, it’s gaining even more confidence. So super pleased to be champion here. It’s unbelievable.
“What a great test we had this week. It was really hard. The course got really firm and fast, there was so much wind. I grew up playing in no wind, so super proud to win a golf tournament in wind like this.”
A storming finish allowed Gunn to snatch second at the very end. He birdied 13 and 14, dropped a shot on the next before making birdie on 16 and an eagle on 18.
It’s his best finish on the Asian Tour since he came third in the Hong Kong Open at the beginning of 2020. He has also been struggling with injuries over the past few seasons.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s been a while since I started playing well again and could say that all the credit goes to my coach Sam Cyr who is here,” said Gunn, who has been playing on a medical exemption.
“We’ve been working really hard for the past six months and this has been the first time that he’s come out here and working with me. We really did grind it out during the practice days, and he put me in the present moment throughout the weekend, encouraged me throughout the whole day and you know, don’t put my head down.
“This is my biggest cheque I’ve received so far, and I mentioned that to Sam as well. And, you know, we’re looking up, and it’s not just here, and he wants me to look forward to like, up there. Top 10, maybe number one in the world. It’s a little crazy right now, but hopefully we get there.”
The next event on the Asian Tour is the New Zealand Open presented by SKY SPORT, which will be played at Millbrook Resort from March 2 to 5.