Thursday, 08 March 2018
Clark Dennis hits the first tee shot of the 2018 Staysure Tour season  (Getty Images)
Clark Dennis hits the first tee shot of the 2018 Staysure Tour season (Getty Images)
Clark Dennis laid down a marker for the 2018 Staysure Tour season as he fired a course record-equalling 65, seven under par, to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq, the first event of the year.

The 52 year old finished first on the Staysure Tour Order of Merit in 2017, becoming the first American to win the John Jacobs Trophy, and continued the form which saw him end last year as Number One of the European over-50s circuit.

Dennis birdied the third and fourth holes, and then birdied the sixth hole to make the turn at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club three under par. On the back nine, he made four consecutive gains from the 12th to the 15th holes to move clear of the chasing pack.

“It was a pretty stress-free round,” said Dennis. “I hit a lot of good shots and I could have been a few strokes lower. It was a really good day.

“The conditions were perfect for golf, there wasn’t a breath of wind as we played the front nine. The greens are perfect, and the course is in phenomenal condition.”

“I was in the first group out, and I was honoured to be given the opportunity to hit the first shot of the new Staysure Tour."

Dennis is three strokes ahead of two-time Staysure Tour winner Marc Farry, four-time winner Phil Golding, and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, who won the 2017 season-ending MCB Tour Championship with a record score of 23 under par – the trio carded first rounds of 68, four under par. 

“I’m very, very happy with the round,” said Farry. “I’ve been working on my short game, especially on my putting over the last few weeks in America. The greens here are a similar speed and surface to what I’ve been practising on in Florida.

“I’ve struggled the last three or four years and have been working hard on my technique, finding a better takeaway and better balance in my swing; maybe it’s starting to pay off, you never know with this game.”

In a share of fifth place on three under par are former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker, and two-time European Tour winner James Kingston. Baker is playing his first full season on the Staysure Tour after turning 50 towards the end of last year.

“It’s great coming back to the UAE,” said Baker. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here; the conditions are great to play in and you feel as though you want to make the most of them and play well.

“I’ve enjoyed playing on the course. The tees are different enough to make the hole different each time. It’s a good test of golf and you really have to be on your game.”

As in 2017, the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters is being played on the Peter Harradine-designed nine-hole layout, with different sets of tees used for the front and back nines of the round.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WIRATCHANT, ThawornTHA18-12
T2DENNIS, ClarkUSA18-12
T2FOWLER, PeterAUS18-12
T5ORR, GarySCO18-6
T5MOLINA, MauricioARG18-6

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