By Kent Gray
Thaworn Wiratchant banked $63,750 but was much richer for the experience of surviving a four-hole playoff to win the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters.
The 51-year-old Thai made it back-to-back Staysure Tour wins when he out-lasted American Clark Dennis and Australia Peter Fowler in extra time that went so long they had to switch on the floodlights at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
“I have never played under floodlights before so that was a new challenge for me,” said the former Asian Tour player who backed up his victory at the season-ending MBC Championship in Mauritius last December.
“Hopefully, I can kick on from here and really concentrate on the year ahead. The pin positions were really difficult today compared to the first two days so it was a real challenge out there. I had to be patient in the playoff as we were all hitting good shots every time we played the hole so I needed to keep my focus and wait for my chance. I just knew I had to get the win.
“I look forward to returning to Sharjah next year to defend my title. This is a great start to my season on the 2018 Staysure Tour.”
The team at SGSC also hope to cash in on the success of the second staging of the Staysure Tour event. Staysure Tour CEO Savid MacLaren led the praise for the $425,000 tournament that remains the only main tour event to be played on a nine-hole course. In a new development, Kiwi superintendent Marty Brown cut two different pins for the final day, offering another challenge on the Peter Harradine-designed layout presented in pristine condition.
“I didn’t think it was possible to be as excited about this year’s Sharjah Senior Golf Masters as last year but I actually was,” said MacLaren. “The reaction of everybody involved in the event, and in particularly the players, makes you realise that we’ve done something well.”
Said Staysure chairman Ryan Howsam: “What a brilliant week we have had here at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club. The condition of the course was absolutely fantastic and the players that played on it were superb.
“It was great watching the last group today; they hardly made any mistakes so it was great to see such a spectacle. I’m over the aged of 50 now so from my point of view I would love to be able to do what these players can. From a business point of view, our main focus is on the over 50s market and this is obviously an over 50s Tour so the connection between the two just makes perfect sense. This is such a great launching platform for Staysure.”
The next Staysure Tour stop is not until May but it is literally major, the KitchenAid U.S. Senior PGA Championship in Michigan from May 24-27. The next European stop is the Shipco Masters in Denmark from June 1-3.