Ogletree cruises to first professional win at International Series Egypt

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CAIRO, EGYPT: Andy Ogletree of the USA pictured with the winner’s trophy on Sunday, November 13, 2022, at the International Series Egypt at the Madinaty Golf Club. The US$ 1.5 million Asian Tour event is staged from November 10-13, 2022. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Cairo: Andy Ogletree secured his maiden title in the professional game today, winning the US$1.5 million International Series Egypt at Madinaty Golf Club in Cairo. The former amateur star found his feet in the play for pay game, firing an eight-under-par 62 to finish with a total of 23 under and win by four shots from Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who returned a 63.

Korean Jeunghun Wang (64) and Sihwan Kim (65) from the United States tied for third, seven behind the winner. The result saw Sihwan Kim return to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit list.

Ogletree started the day with a three-shot advantage from Wiesberger and took a firm grip of the tournament by touring the front nine in four-under-par 32 with birdies on one, three, five, seven and nine with a dropped shot on eight doing little damage to his lead.

He was four ahead of Wiesberger at the turn. The Austrian pushed hard to mount a challenge and eagled the par-four 10th after holing his second but Ogletree responded with a birdie on that hole to sit comfortably three in front.

Wiesberger closed to within two after a birdie on 13 but the 16th proved to be pivotal as the American made a birdie while Wiesberger dropped a shot to put the gap back to four.

Wiesberger made birdie on 17 but it still left Ogletree with the comfort of a three-shot lead going down the last, which he fittingly birdied to put the icing on the cake.

“This is amazing, just incredible,” said the rising star from Little Rock, Mississippi, who earned a cheque for US$270,000. “I have always been a huge fan of Matchplay and that is kind of what it came to in the end, it was basically a two-man race. I just tried to keep matching what he was doing, I kept making a lot of putts. Fortunately, I was able to play better than Bernd, he’s a great player and it was really awesome to come out on top.”

The 24-year-old, who played on the golf team at the prestigious Georgia Tech University, won the US Amateur in 2019 and was part of the victorious American team at the Walker Cup the same year. He turned professional the following year and is a rookie on the Asian Tour this season.

Added Ogletree: “It has been an awesome week. First time in Egypt. I got to experience everything the tourists do, I went to the Pyramids, we stayed at a great hotel and the golf course was spectacular. It has just been a really awesome. My first trip to Egypt is one that I will never forget.”

Wiesberger was attempting to win his third Asian Tour title and first in nine years but found Ogletree just too good today.

“Yeah, I mean I take that [shooting a 63] going into Sunday in the last group,” said the 37-year-old, an eight-time winner on the DP World Tour. It wasn’t good enough to throw everything at him. I played a good round and can be proud of myself.”

Wang’s finish is his best performance since coming back from 18-months of National Service several months ago.

Said Wang: “Actually I am really happy with my score today because I didn’t make any bogeys. The first two rounds I didn’t really hit it good, especially my irons, but it’s getting better right now.”

Sihwan Kim who led the Merit list race for much of the year following two victories recaptured top sot from Korean Bio Kim. Sihwan Kim has now earned U$615,208, while Bio Kim, who did not compete this week, is second with winnings of US$ $595,109.

Jordan’s Shergo Al Kurdi was the highest placed regional player after a second successive three-under round of 67 gave the 19-year-old a seven-under total and an impressive T27 finish.

Moroccan El Mehdi Fakori also carded a three-under 67 for a six-under total, a result which secured a spot in next year’s high-profile Saudi International as highest amateur in this week’s field.

Fakori’s compatriot Ayoub Lguirati was a shot further back on -5, after a one-under final round while another Moroccan amateur, Adam Bresnu, finished on four over.

Fakori said: “It was a good day. I’m very happy to be playing at that level, this is only my second tournament and my performance really gave me a boost of confidence. To finish as the highest placed amateur makes me very proud and I hope I can continue playing these tournaments and competing at this level.”

Lguirati said: “I played very well for the first two days and make all my putts. The next two days I played better and hit the ball better but I didn’t putt well. I beat the course at one under and that’s what I set out to do. It was a wonderful tournament played on a great course and I’m very grateful that I got the chance to play.”

Jordanian golfer Kurdi said: “I really enjoyed playing here this week and the support I have had from the Egyptian players has been wonderful. I felt I could have scored better, but I couldn’t have enjoyed it any more really.”

Two more events remain on the Asian Tour this season: the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Bangladesh Open (November 24-27) and the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE (December 1-4).

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