South African Chris Williams roared into the early lead at the inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq after firing a blistering course record seven-under-par 65 in the opening round at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
The 57-year-old, who has one previous win on the European Senior Tour at the 2011 Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters, got off to the perfect start with a birdie at the first and things only got better for the former Sunshine Tour player as he tore up the Peter Harradine track to beat the previous record by one.
“There wasn’t much wind out there this morning and that’s when you’ve got to post your scores because it looks like the wind blows a lot here in the afternoon,” said Williams who enjoyed particular success on the four par fives, which he played in five-under-par, including eagles on the fourth and 15th. “The course is in superb condition – the greens are running so well and I putted really nicely today.
“Two eagles will always get your score down no matter what else you do. But I got off to a great start too. I birdied the first hole and that kind of set the trend for the round. I felt more relaxed after that and the two eagles were nice bonuses. I sunk a long putt on the fourth and holed out from the bunker on the 15th so you’ve got to be pleased with that!”
The USA’s Clark Dennis, Sweden’s Magnus Atlevi and Denmark’s Steen Tinning shot matching rounds of six-under-par 66 to lie in a share second place while a group of seven players were hot their heels at five-under-par, setting up the prospect of a thrilling contest over the weekend in Sharjah.
“Today was really good,” said Steen who carded seven birdies and just one bogey. “I played really well – I’ve got a few new things going on with my putting and they all worked very well today. I’ve been practicing hard to try to be prepared for the first tournament so this is a great way to start.
“The course is great fun to play. At times you’ve got to really be careful but at other times there are birdie chances. The greens are rolling very nicely so you’re going to get low scores when the greens are like this.”
This week’s tournament marks the first time the European Senior Tour has ever been played in Sharjah and the first time it has visited the UAE since 2000. Entry is free for all spectators and Williams has promised golf fans a feast of golf this weekend.
“The course is set up for good scoring and I think spectators can expect to see some really good scores over the weekend,” he said.
The Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq takes place at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club from March 16-18 and entry is free of charge for all.
The tournament is presented by Shurooq and supported by the Emirates Golf Federation, National Paints, BMW AGMC, Radisson Blu, Sport 360, Orient Irrigation Services, Harradine Golf, Wicked Tents, Al Laith and Titleist.