1. Making history once again: Last year, the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters made history as it became the first ever European Tour event to be played on a nine-hole golf course. Different tees were utilised at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club on the par three and par five holes, giving golfers a new challenge as they played their second loop of the course. In 2018, different tees will be used on every hole except the first/tenth.
On the final day, there will be two pin positions on each green, giving competitors a new target on the ‘back’ nine.
2. First timers to tee it up: The five golfers who successfully negotiated Qualifying School last month will be making their first appearances in a regular Staysure Tour event next week. Both Mauricio Molina and Paul Streeter qualified for last year’s Senior Open Presented by Rolex but, alongside Q-School winner Rafael Gomez, John Kemp and David Shacklady, will be teeing it up for the first time on the European over-50s circuit.
Also making their debuts in Sharjah are Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and German Sven Strüver. Strüver, who turned 50 in July last year, is a three-time winner on the European Tour, with victories at the 1996 Alfred Dunhill S.A. PGA, 1997 Sun Microsystems Dutch Open and 1998 Canon European Masters.
Mamat turned 50 towards the end of 2017 and is now eligible to compete on the Staysure Tour. Making regular appearances on the European Tour over the last decade, Mamat won the 2006 OSIM Singapore Masters.
3. Third time’s a charm: The second edition of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters will be the third time the Staysure Tour, formerly the European Senior Tour, will have held an event in the United Arab Emirates.
The first event was the 2000 Abu Dhabi European Seniors Tour Championship before last year’s Sharjah Senior Golf Masters.
The European Tour has a rich history in the UAE, with more than 50 main Tour events being played there since 1989. The European Challenge Tour has also teed it up in the UAE on four occasions.
4. Ryder Cup dozen set to star: A dozen former Ryder Cup players are confirmed to take part in this year’s Sharjah Senior Golf Masters, including 1989 European Tour Number One Ronan Rafferty and six-time Staysure Tour winner Barry Lane, who set a new 18-hole record score at the 2017 Willow Senior Golf Classic with a 12 under par round of 60.
Jarmo Sandelin will make his first appearance in the UAE since turning 50, and will be joined by fellow former Ryder Cup players Peter Baker, Gordon Brand Jnr, Gordon J Brand, Phillip Price, Stephen Richardson, José Rivero, Costantino Rocca, Des Smyth and Philip Walton.
5. A new era for the Tour: The Sharjah Senior Golf Masters is the first event of the newly-named Staysure Tour after the UK’s leading insurance company signed a ten-year title sponsorship deal with what was formerly European Senior Tour in December 2017.
The Sharjah Senior Golf Masters is the first event of a minimum of 18 in the 2018 schedule and provides an excellent opportunity for players to lay a marker down for the season ahead.Last year’s winner, Chris Williams went on to finish second on the Order of Merit. The South African recorded two third place finishes and five further top ten results in 2017.