England’s Gary Marks is keen to build on his runner-up finish at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq with a strong showing in his first appearance at next month’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Marks left Sharjah disappointed to have lost to South Africa’s Chris Williams in a sudden-death play-off at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club, but remained upbeat after a strong showing at the first event of the season, with limited practice in the build-up.
“I’m almost stunned with my result in Sharjah,” said Marks. “I hadn’t done anything at all before heading out there. I had been hitting 100 balls a day off a mat, but hadn’t touched any grass.
“I set a target of top-20 to ease into the season and find my game. To end up in a play-off for the title was beyond reasonable expectations.”
After winning Qualifying School Final Stage in 2016, Marks enjoyed a solid first full season on the European Senior Tour securing a maiden victory at the inaugural Willow Senior Golf Classic.
The 53 year old went on to finish tenth on the Senior Tour Order of Merit, with earnings of €107,343, securing a place at Trump National GC for the first Major Championship of the season.
“It’ll be really exciting out there,” he said. “It’s likely that I’ll go there without much golf again, so I know that I can pitch up and find my game quite quickly.
“With the win last year and a runner-up this season, I should have a degree of confidence about my ability. You do have to get it in shape quickly because, sometimes, you find yourself scratching on the range trying to find an answer.”
Reflecting on his performance in Sharjah, Marks was pleased to have been in contention, particularly after starting the final round just one shot off overnight leader James Kingston.
“I kept my game going, and I was off the pace a little bit at the start of the round because Chris had a run of birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie, which left myself and James behind,” he added.
“I then made three birdies in a row and Chris dropped a shot. It was fitting there was a play-off, but Chris deserved to win. I have to be happy with the week.
“I’m not happy about finishing the way I did, but that’s one of the challenges we face every time we play a tournament.
“You have to focus on your own game and hit good shots when the pressure is at its greatest. It is magnified as you move higher up the leaderboard because you know the numbers become fives of tens of thousands – and then there’s the title and the glory.
“Sometimes we wonder if we are worthy of it. It does make you a little nervous, but we are addicted to it.”