Among household names such as former 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, Mardan Mamat, 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 debuts in Sharjah this week.
Streeter turned professional aged 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,” said the Englishman. “All the players have made me feel so welcome by coming to up me and wishing me well including the legendary Des Smyth.”
Mamat created history when he became the first Singaporean to win 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,” 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.”
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.”
Head down to Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club this week, where entry is free, to see this new crop of players in action as well as former Ryder Cup stars and senior major champions as they compete for the prestigious Sharjah Senior Golf Masters title.
Two-time world champion Tim Burke reveals all about his journey into the sport, the fitness regime required to compete in the Long Drive World Series and his future ambitions.
The 31-year-old American, who derives from a baseball-playing background, turned out to be a Long Drive natural and has previously recorded a whopping 469-yard shot off the tee.
He said: "For me, a lot of it is upper-body separation from pitching and training in the gym. I do rotational power work every Tuesday and Thursday, and more linear power with rotation each Monday and Friday. It's a whole process and I am competing a lot this year... hopefully I will win my third world championship."
For more information, visit www.longdriveworldseries.com.
Life is pretty good for long drive golfer James Tait.
The 29-year-old, who has been involved in the sport for about nine months, claimed his first-ever Long Drive victory at the Long Drive World Series in event in Dubai.
Although he still juggles a full-time job with his love for the sport, he opened up to Sport360 about his future plans and expressed a desire to pursue his passion on a permanent basis.
"I don't obviously do this full-time. I still have my full-time job, so I try to find a balance between the two is a bit difficult. But I still hit balls five times a week or just whenever I can. It's still a hobby for me, but hopefully I will do this full-time," he said.
Watch more in the video above.