Ryder Cup star Rafferty promises “fun-filled, top class golf” at inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq

Sharjah, UAE: As the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq rapidly approaches, the stars of the show are eagerly preparing for the first European Senior Tour event of the 2017 season, the first in the UAE since 2000 and the first to be held at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

Rafferty is pictured with Malcolm Mackenzie, Des Smyth and Paul Broadhurst at last year's Sharjah Senior Invitational

Rafferty is pictured with Malcolm Mackenzie, Des Smyth and Paul Broadhurst at last year’s Sharjah Senior Invitational

Among the many stalwarts of the Tour, Ulsterman Ronan Rafferty is looking forward to another first by tee-ing it up on the first 9-hole course to host a European Senior Tour event when the tournament, which has no entry fee for spectators, gets underway at the Peter Harradine-designed Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club from March 16-18.

“Having played in the one-day Sharjah Senior Invitational Pro-Am presented by Shurooq last March I know that I’m going to enjoy the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters,” says Rafferty. “It’s a good course with some tricky greens but it doesn’t feel like a 9-hole course because you’re going in at a different angle on the ‘shared’ holes.

“The Pro-Am last year was a lot of fun and the banter between the players and spectators had everyone inter-acting with each other. That’s one of the features of the Senior Tour.  We’re all totally focused on winning but that doesn’t stop us sharing a few jokes and having a laugh with the galleries.

“There’s a great field for the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters with every player in the top 20 of the 2016 Senior Tour Order of Merit signed up to play. Playing on the Senior Tour is a bit like attending a series of old reunions. It’s great to meet up with so many old friends again.

“Although there were only four Senior Tour players taking part in the 2016 Pro-Am – Des Smyth, Paul Broadhurst, Malcolm Mackenzie along with myself – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It was a good introduction to the main event 12 months later and a good advert for the European Senior Tour. It would be great if next month’s Sharjah Senior Golf Masters were to lead to another Senior Tour event in the region.”

Rafferty was the European Tour’s No.1 in 1988 thanks to three wins that season, which earned him a place in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry where he earned a crucial point with a 1-up win over Mark Calcavecchia in the singles to help Europe to a 14-14 draw and successfully retain the Cup.

“The Ryder Cup has a fantastic atmosphere and let’s hope we can create some friendly noise at Sharjah next month. As Senior Tour players we’ve got to do everything we can to give spectators a reason to attend the event and join in and the two days of Pro-Ams on the Tuesday and Wednesday, prior to the main event on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, has all the hallmarks of an outstanding week of fun-filled top-class golf.

“Good luck to all the enthusiastic amateurs and I hope they enjoy the occasion and when their friends and families outside the ropes see them having so much fun with their team-mates inside the ropes, they’ll want to join in the party and have a chat and contribute to the banter. Next time around they’ll be wanting to play.”

Rafferty, who has seven European Tour titles to his name, will be heading out to Sharjah well in advance to sharpen up his game.

“I have a daughter who lives in Dubai,” he says, “so it will be good to see her and I’ll be heading over to Jumeirah Golf Estates to spend some time at the wonderful European Tour Performance Institute so I’ll be raring to go at Sharjah.”

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.

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