KINGSTON SHINES IN SHARJAH
South Africa’s James Kingston will take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq after firing an impressive six under par 66 at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
On an overcast day, the 51-year-old shone over the Peter Harradine-designed nine-hole layout, carding seven birdies, including four in succession from the third to the sixth, to open up a one stroke advantage on overnight leader Chris Williams and Gary Marks, at 10 under par 134.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “Coming here, not knowing what to expect with the golf course. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure how I was playing, but ten under par is great.”
Kingston, who is still searching for his first win on the European Senior Tour, is a big fan of the UAE’s golf courses having been a regular visitor during his days on the European Tour and he revealed that he has been impressed by what he has seen so far from the first tour event ever to be played in Sharjah.
“It’s always great to come and play golf in the UAE,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed the events we played in this region on the main Tour. The facilities out here are unbelievable. If you want to come and work at your game, this is the place to do it. The golf courses are always in impeccable condition so what a wonderful place it is for us to come and start the season.
“It would be awesome to add one or two more events in this region to the schedule to make it more of a Middle East Swing like they have on the main Tour. “
Golf fans are in for a captivating final day in the northern emirate with six players within three strokes of Kingston’s lead. Englishman Marks got off to a flying start with three birdies in a row and matched total of seven on the way to a four under 68 which would have been even better but for a double bogey on the seventh and a bogey on 11.
“It was a great start, you can’t plan things like that, but you have to keep it going and not defend or get complacent,” he said. “I had a period around the middle of the round, took a double bogey on seven and I had another bogey soon after, so I was in a bit of trouble. But a couple of decent putts went in, one for par and one for birdie and I finished steadily after regrouping.”
The Sharjah Senior Golf Masters marks the first time a European Senior Tour event has been played on a nine-hole course and, with players completing two circuits in each round, Marks believes there is an added mental challenge in having to revist holes where shots may have been dropped earlier in the round.
“There’s some scar tissue there the next time you’re on that tee,” he said. “There’s the memory and you have to deal with it a couple of hours later. That’s part of the game though and if you can’t deal with scary golf shots, you shouldn’t be a pro.”
Kingston’s fellow countryman Williams followed up his electrifying course record opening round of 65 with a more sedate two under 72 to join Marks in second place while Roger Chapman (67), Steen Tinning (71), Magnus Atelvi (71) and Paul Broadhurst (67) lie in a share of fourth at seven under par.
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.
The final round gets underway at 6.45am.