Amongst household names such as Ryder Cup stars Des Smyth, Ronan Rafferty and Barry Lane there are also a selection of players making their first forays into senior golf at the 2018 Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq and they’re thriving on the new lease of life the Staysure Tour has breathed into their careers as they get reacquainted with old friends at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
Rafael Gomez, Paul Streeter, Mauricio Molina, John Kemp and David Shacklady secured their Staysure Tour cards through this season’s Qualifying School at Pestana Golf Resort in Portugal and are making their Senior level berth at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club this week.
Streeter turned professional at age 31 in 1997 and earned a total of €77,403 on the European Tour in 44 tournaments but is now looking to make his mark on the Staysure Tour at the $425,000 event where he’s been given a warm welcome by his fellow stars.
“The Staysure Tour has been fantastic so far,” says the Englishman Streeter. “All the players have made me feel so welcome by coming to up me and wishing me well including the legendary Des Smyth.”
Englishman Kemp rose from the amateur ranks to the StaySure level after finishing second at Q-School. If he had won, he’d have been the first amateur to win the Senior Tour Qualifying School since Denis O’Sullivan in 1997. The 50 year old turns his back on an amateur career that includes three British Mid-Amateur victories and the 2013 English Mid-Amateur, as well as qualifying for two Open Championships in 2001 and 2002. He is proud to be competing at this level amongst the elite stars of his era.
“I’ve absolutely loved my first round in the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters,” said Kemp. “The other guys on the Staysure Tour have been very welcoming. What a great bunch of guys they are. I’ve been working as well as preparing for this tournament so it’s been hard to juggle but I am so happy to be part of this Tour and playing in a beautiful place like Sharjah.”
Another playing making his debut this week was Mardan Mamat, who turned 50 at the end of 2017. Mamat created history when he became the first Singaporean to be victorious on the European Tour when he lifted the 2006 Singapore Masters at his home course of Laguna National Golf and Country Club. Mamat’s last top three finish was three years ago in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on the European Tour so he is hoping it won’t be too long before he returns to the winner’s circle at Senior level.
“I feel young again on the Staysure Tour I’m which is always nice,” said the 50 year old – which is the minimum age to compete at this level. “It’s been great to catch up with some old friends in Sharjah and see them still playing so well. I hope I can perform well enough to keep my card this season and stay on the Staysure Tour.”