Chris Williams carded a first round of 65 to take a one shot lead into the second round of the inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq.
The 57 year old made two eagles and five birdies as he finished his round seven under par, one shot ahead of Sweden’s Magnus P Atlevi, America’s Clark Dennis and Denmark’s Steen Tinning, setting a new course record at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
The European Senior Tour has returned to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2000 and Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club is hosting the first ever European Tour-sanctioned event to be played on a nine-hole golf course.
Players are using alternate tee boxes on the par three and par five holes, changing the yardages and approaches on each circuit of the nine-hole course.
Williams, who last won on the Senior Tour in 2011, was glad to have made a fast start to the 2017 season.
“It’s a great way to start the year,” he said. “It’s just what you want, and I’m fortunate to have got off to a good start.
“The course suits everyone’s game. It is in great condition and the course is there for the taking. The fairways are pretty wide but the greens can be tricky, particularly in the wind. Even so, I would expect some of the guys to go low this weekend.”
The South African eagled the fourth and 15th holes, sinking a long putt for his first and then chipping in from a bunker for his second.
Clark Dennis, who is making his Senior Tour debut in Sharjah, also eagled the 15th as he finished with a first round of 66.
“I played very nice today,” said Dennis, who earned his card at Senior Tour Qualifying School last month.
“I made a few birdies and snuck and eagle in there. There were a couple of bogeys but, overall, I had a really good round today.
“Sharjah has been wonderful, the people have been great and the golf course is fantastic. I’m really enjoying my first visit here in the UAE.
“I want to keep playing like this, stick to my process and try and play a good round each day.”
2016 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year Magnus P Atlevi, who finished second in last season’s Order of Merit, made a faultless start to the new season with a bogey-free round of 66 to share second place.
“You can’t get better than that,” said Atlevi. “Quality throughout the round is important. I birdied the 16th, which is probably the hardest hole we have, and I finished birdie, par, birdie.
“I had a great opportunity on the 15th because we play it from the front tee the second time round. I took a three iron in but found the bunker and then two-putted. It felt like a bogey, but I was pleased to finish the round the way I did.
“This morning was fantastic scoring weather. The fairways are really good and the greens are fantastic. When we have these conditions, it makes us play better.”
Steen Tinning, a two-time winner on the Senior Tour, carded three birdies in the last four holes to take a share of second place.
“I played very, very well all day long. I have a couple of new things going on and I’ve been practising hard to prepare for this tournament,” said the Dane.
“I’m swinging the club very well and it’s all down to my putting. The course is great fun to play. At times you have to really be careful, then at other times you have some real chances.”
Tied for fifth place are André Bossert, Gary Marks, Miguel Angel Martin, Gary Rusnak and Gary Wolstenholme, with three golfers a shot further back in a share of tenth place.
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