The stars of the Staysure Tour are set to make their return for the second edition of the Sharjah Golf Masters presented by Shurooq at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club from March 8-10.
After the success of last year’s tournament, the first event on the Staysure Tour calendar for 2018 will welcome some of golf’s biggest names from years gone by with 14 Ryder Cup players set to tee it up in the UAE, including 2014 Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley.
He will be joined by Clark Dennis, who became the first American to win the John Jacobs Trophy for topping the Order of Merit in 2017, and was also named Rookie of the Year that same season.
As in 2017, the tournament will be played over the nine-hole golf course at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
Last year’s champion Chris Williams joins the field too, with preparations in full swing to defend the title he won in spectacular fashion after beating Gary Marks in a play-off.
Among the host of former Ryder Cup players among the star-studded field are Des Smyth, Ronan Rafferty, Costantino Rocca, Gordon Brand Jnr, Barry Lane, Phillip Price, Jarmo Sandelin, Miguel Angel Martin, Peter Baker, José Rivero, Philip Walton, and Steven Richardson.
Northern Ireland’s Rafferty, winner of the European Tour Order of Merit in 1989 and former European number one, will continue his quest for a maiden Staysure Tour title, adding to the seven he won on the European Tour between 1989 and 1993.
Also confirmed are two-time senior major champion Roger Chapman, who became the first European to win both the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open in the same season in 2012.
He’ll be joined by 2016 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year Magnus P Atlevi, who secured his maiden Senior Tour title at Le Golf National, host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup, at the Paris Legends Championship.
Phil Golding will also look to add another Staysure Tour title after doubling his number of victories to four in 2017 with wins at the Swiss Seniors Open and Travis Perkins Masters.
David MacLaren, head of the Tour, said: “As you can see by the quality of the field we are expecting for the first event on the Staysure Tour in 2018 we expect this tournament will provide another enthralling battle between our players and a worthy winner of the title.
“We wish all of our players the best of luck for the forthcoming season and we look forward to working alongside our new title partner in Staysure to deliver another memorable season of golf.”
Speaking on the return of the Staysure Tour season to Sharjah, His Excellency Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of tournament sponsors and co-organisers the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said: “We look forward to the return of some of the biggest and most prominent names in senior golf, who shared memorable experiences during their last participation at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters 2017.
“Similarly, we are excited to welcome some of the new names participating, all of which sharing a dedicated commitment to going after the title.
We see these types of tournaments as key opportunities for us to give tourists, visitors and golf enthusiasts a taste of authenticity, nature and culture when practicing a prestigious sport such as Golf in Sharjah.”
Long Drive World Series, one of Golf’s most exciting new formats, is all set to come to Dubai for the second time at 19:00 on February 9, at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The event in Dubai is the first in the series of 10 tournaments that will be held across all the cosmopolitan cities in the world, with 16 of the world’s best, including three UAE wild cards, competing for a share of the Dh94,500 event prize pool.
Unlike regular golf, Long Drive is all about hitting a golf ball as far as you humanly can by driving, and is a visual spectacle of strength, power, and speed.
The format for this year’s contest is going to be very different from last year’s and the total points gained by each player throughout the series will determine the winner in the end.
Jamie Marland, director of operations for the Long Drive World Series, said: “This year we are going to run a little bit different from 2017, we are going to run a point-system. It won’t be the case of someone winning each and every event, but it will be more like if you finish first in one and finish second in the next one, it (the points) will accumulate and that is how we’ll decide the winner, just like Formula One.”
Two-time world champions, Joe Miller from the UK and Tim Burke from America, are gearing up to add a third victory to their collection, and catching up with them is James Tait, also from the UK, who currently balances a regular job and the sport, but plans on taking it up full-time eventually.
Miller, who has built quite a reputation for his monster drive, has been in the game for the last 16 years and says that maintaining his fitness and being consistent at the sport has been his biggest challenge.
Miller’s longest drive is 474 yards and he combines weight and powerlifting to maintain that drive.
He sat down with Sport360 and shared the secret behind the perfect long drive, which is all about speed.
He said: “The secret to it is speed, the faster you can swing a golf club, you’re going to give yourself the best opportunity to hit a ball long way and to get the most distance out of it. I’d rather be the guy swinging the fastest and hope to get one in the grid than to fill the grid with eight that have no chances of winning.”
For more information, visit www.longdriveworldseries.com
Thabet triumphed by an impressive eight strokes with a round of 73 and career best 67 (5-under-par), scoring a competition record 140 at the weekend.
Following his heroic performance, he said the victory will give him a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.
“To win this event twice under the patronage of His Highness Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a big honour,” he said.
“Having my name carved on the trophy and to go down in UAE golf history for firing the lowest score at this event means a lot to me. My hard work is paying off and by shooting my lowest round of my career is proof of that. I knew I was mentally and physically prepared. I think the turning point was when I got three birdies in a row during my second round on 11, 12, and 13.”
He added: “Moving forward I am going to get back to the driving range and gym and continue to work on my game. I will better my game through the EGF Order of Merit in prep for National Team events. I also have my eye on making a spot on the amateur Dubai Trophy Team. I look forward to continue to represent my country locally and internationally.”
For Ahmed Skaik, he had to settle for second spot after his 148, while Hassan Al Musharrekh finished third place with a total of 157.
The event also presented players with the chance to win Net Prizes. The overall Net Winner was Abdulla Al Musharrekh with a net total of 144. The Best Net for Day One award went to Abdul Rahman Al Laggiti with a round one 62 net score, and Best Net for Day Two went to Adel Zarouni with a 66 net score.
In the ladies competition, Reema Al Heloo was crowned champion for the second year in a row after firing 167 gross score for 23-over-par.
The Ladies Overall Net winner was Eida Al Muhairbi with a net score of 146 2-over-(net)-par.
Walking away with the 2018 Junior Division title was Obaid Al Heloo, who shot 177 to claim his first ever UAE Presidents Cup victory.
He finished ahead of runner-up was Rashid Al Emadi who was three shots adrift, while the Best Junior Net prize went to Khaled Al Mutawa with a net score of 178.
In efforts to develop the game of golf within the national community the competition, sponsored by HSBC also hosted a Par 3 Championship on the Yas Links challenging Academy Course.
Eighteen members of the EGF Foundation Squad, between the ages of 8 and 15, competed in a 9-hole championship with Rashid Al Jassmy winning the event after edging his brother and runner-up Sultan Al Jassmy. Saad Al Zarouni won third place.