Golf: Cohen, Geri, Libman, Solomon and Lurie all winners at the Rolex Israeli Open
The Men's Master's, for the over-50 age group, was won by Ron Solomon who had an excellent final round 68.
By SHMULIK FUTERAN
It was certainly a Cinderella story for 15-year-old Asaf Cohen, who took the title in the Men's Division of the Rolex Israeli Open at the Ga'ash Golf Club on Thursday.
Standing on the first tee for the final round, Asaf was nine shots behind an experienced guest from Munich, 18-year-old Sebastian Leuthaeuser, who has played in amateur tournaments all over the world. Cohen said while on the first tee that he had a game plan and if he concentrated and stayed committed there is no reason why he cannot win the tournament.
â€¦and so it wasâ€¦
Scoring an excellent three-under par round of 67, the high school student from Or Akiva stormed back to take the title and go into the record books of Israeli Open champions alongside names such as Asayag, Hacham, as well as Asaf's own Father, Avi Cohen.
Asaf played four rounds of 74, 71, 77 and the final, clutch 3-under 67 for the three-shot victory.
Sebastian came in second, with rounds of 72, 67, 74, and a final round of 79, and in 3rd place was another young golfer, 16-year-old Ben Friedrich of the Ga'ash Club.
In other action at Ga'ash, for the second time, the Israeli PGA held an professional invitational tournament, combined during the week of the Israeli Open, and this year six professionals participated, including the 2005 Maccabi champion, Andy Nemiroff, and visiting from Florida, Oren Geri who is a previous winner of many Israeli Opens.
When the last group of pro stood on Thursday afternoon on the 16th tee of Ga'ash course, the tournament was all but over. Andy Nemiroff, who had a championship-record 65 round the day before, held a three stroke lead over closest rival Oren Geri with only three holes to play. However 40 minutes later, it was Oren who was holding the crown.
On both 16 and 17 Nemiroff had disappointing bogies while Oren closed with a par-birdie.
This had both players arrive at the par-three, 18th hole tied for the lead. A sizable crowd around the green saw the tee shots land on two opposite sides of the flag on the fringe. Andy was first to play, hitting a great chip to within a foot of the hole finishing with a par.
Oren then proceeded to ram in an unbelievable 11 meter putt for a dramatic birdie and the win in the professional invitational division.
"I had a great time" said Oren afterwards. "The tournament organization was impressive, the course was in excellent shape and played harder than I thought it would."
Oren also had very kind words to say about his opponent, saying that, "Andy played great and made it a tough competition even though he had little opportunity to play at all this year".
The Men's Master's, for the over-50 age group, was won by Ron Solomon who had an excellent final round 68. In second place was Leslie Ben Amir followed by Ran Saar in third.
The Ladies' junior champion of 2008 was 13-year-old Hadas Libman from Or Akiva, while in second was Esther Malka. The Ladies Senior was Catherine Lurie who was visiting from the Coombe Hill Golf Club in London. Runner-up for the ladies was Ophra Stup.
At the prize ceremony following the tournament, tournament chairman, Gil Perez and Dr. Cyril Kaufman, who is the chairman of the Israeli Golf Federation thanked Gili Peleg, CEO of Golf Ga'ash for hosting the tournament. They also thanked all the volunteers and staff at the Gaash Golf Club for managing to host nearly 80 golfers a day over the four days of the event on the magnificent nine-hole golf course.
A special mention was made of Ishai Drori and his ground crew, who managed to keep the course in perfect condition throughout the competitions despite the inclement weather.
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