After being part of the first wave of professional golfers to tee it up in the United Arab Emirates in the late 1980s, former Ryder Cup player Barry Lane is excited to return to the Middle East at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq.
The 56-year-old was the only player to participate in the first 25 editions of the Dubai Desert Classic, from 1989 to 2014, and has fond memories of the UAE. Ahead of the first event of the 2017 European Senior Tour season, Lane is one of 57 golfers preparing for the first tournament to be held in the Emirate of Sharjah this week.
“There have been some massive changes in this country since I first played here in 1989,” said Lane, who is making his first appearance at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club. “I have played well in the Emirates over the years, I finished third in Dubai twice and sixth four times.”
“I like coming here, and at this time of year the weather is perfect. It’s a shock to the system coming to 30 degrees, I live in Gothenburg in Sweden and it has been minus 15 over there.”
Lane is the most recent winner on the Senior Tour after his success at the 2016 season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius, where he collected his fifth over-50s title, adding to the five he won on the European Tour.
“I had six second-place finishes and a few thirds since the last time I won on the Senior Tour in 2012,” he said. “I hadn’t realised it had been so many years between wins.”
“I played well from September onwards and carried it through. I feel like I’m playing as well, if not better, than I was in Mauritius. I went over to America at the start of the year and practised and played a lot.”
“The game seems to still be there and I’m really looking forward to this season.”
The 57-man field in Sharjah will make history this week at the first European Tour-sanctioned event to be played on a nine-hole golf course.
“It’s a lovely course,” said Lane. “It’s a proper nine-hole course, and it will make a tough 18-hole course. I’m not quite sure what the final score will be to be honest. It’s difficult to get close to the flags and some of the greens are tricky to read, it has been set up really nicely for a tournament. We play from different tees on the par threes and par fives, which I think is very sensible.”
“I think the hardest challenge will be forgetting what you had done the first time you played the hole and refocusing. It will be different for us, but anything different is good.”