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Clark Dennis hits purple patch as American leads the way after opening round of Sharjah Senior Golf Masters

Clark Dennis fires a bogey-free opening round 65 to roar into the early lead at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club

Sport360 staff 2018/03/09

The opening round of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq saw players, caddies and officials wearing purple to mark the official commencement of the newly named Staysure Tour (formerly the European Senior Tour) at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.

It’s the colour of the UK-based insurance company for over 50s which is now the naming sponsor of the tour and it was a fitting choice for American Clark Dennis as last year’s Order of Merit winner hit a veritable purple patch on the stunning Peter Harradine-designed layout on Thursday, firing a bogey-free opening round 65 to roar into the early lead in the northern emirate.

“It’s great. I played very nicely today,” said Dennis. “I didn’t make a bogey and I think I only missed one green. It was a pretty stress-free round, I hit a lot of good shots and could have been a few lower.”

The 52-year-old made an impressive start to the day with three birdies in his opening six holes to set the pace early before lighting up the course on the second loop of the nine-hole track, picking up four birdies in a row from 12 to 15 to get to seven under par.

“It was a really good day and it was a real honour to be able to hit the first shot of the new Staysure Tour in perfect conditions, not a breath of wind for nine holes,” added Dennis.

“The greens are perfect and the course is in phenomenal condition.  It’s great to be at the top of the leaderboard – that’s certainly where I want to be at the end of the week.”

Frenchman Marc Farry goes into day two in a share of second place after shooting an opening round of 68. The two-time Staysure Tour winner started the day in red hot form with a front nine of 33 to leave him sitting three under par.

Another three birdies over his first four holes on the back nine put him right in the mix but back to back bogeys on 15 and 16 meant he finished three off the pace at four under par after the opening round.

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

Rafael Gomez, Paul Streeter, Mardan Mamat, John Kemp and David Shacklady are making their senior debuts in Sharjah.

England’s Philip Golding and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant joined the 58-year-old in second after also scoring four under par.

England’s Peter Baker and James Kingston of South Africa make up the top five after rounds of three under par left them four off the lead with a further two rounds to play.

Meanwhile, Kingston’s fellow countryman Chris Williams will be hoping for a better second day after the defending champion could only muster level par on the course that yielded his second Staysure Tour title 12 months ago.

“I was a bit disappointed with my performance out there today,” said the South African.

“It’s great to return here as the defending champion but there’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders which made me quite nervous to begin with. I had my chances today but couldn’t take them.”

Amateur Namir Al Naimi, a member at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club who booked his place in the field via a local qualifier, shot a highly respectable 74 while fellow amateur Steven Kelbrick is one shot further back.

Sharing his thoughts on the first day in Sharjah, His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, said: “The first day of the tournament was kicked off in style.

“We’ve received outstanding feedback from the players about the emirate’s vibrant weather, as well as their joy at returning to the world-class golf course at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.”

For more information contact the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club Academy office on 06 548 7777 or email academy@golfandshootingshj.com.

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Clark Dennis Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club Sharjah Senior Golf Masters Staysure Tour