Eccles joins greats with course record

Ben Eccles
Ben Eccles in action in the United Arab Emirates.

It wasn't quite enough for the top gong, but Geelong's Ben Eccles created his own piece of history this week.

Eccles, 21, joined none other than Open champion Darren Clarke and former world No.1 Lee Westwood as joint course record holders at Dubai Creek on the MENA Golf Tour in the United Arab Emirates.

The Golf Australia rookie squad member's eight-under-par round vaulted him all the way to third in the 54-hole event, to which he coincidentally received an invitation from Clarke, the Middle East and North Africa tour's patron.

His 10-under-par total left him two shots shy of a playoff won by Indian amateur prodigy Rayhan Thomas, who beat Luke Joy into second place.

Playing on a special invitation from Darren Clarke, the patron of the MENA Golf Tour, Australia’s Benjamnin Eccles produced the highlight of the day, firing a sizzling eight-under 63 to match the course record, jointly held by Lee Westwood and Clarke himself.

Playing in his first MENA event, Eccles more than made his presence felt.

“It is an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as Ryder Cup captain Clarke and Lee Westwood in some corner of the world,” Eccles said after his round that included seven birdies - four in a row from the seventh - an eagle and a bogey.

“I am very happy with my efforts. I birdied the first and then eagled the fourth and that kind of set the tone for the day."

The New South Wales Open champion last year as an amateur, Eccles will now turn his attention to the start of European Tour Q-School next week.

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