The victorious SGSC team with the UAE Scratch League trophy: (back row from left) Nathan Fisher, Adam Smith, Michael Harradine, John Mills, Ramli Sulaiman; (front row from left) William Xu, Thomas Murdoch, Chris Alderman, Barry Cotter, Mike Robson.
By Kent Gray
It has been quite the month for Nathan Fisher and an even better year for his beloved Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club (SGSC).
The 33-year-old South African did the small club with big ambitions proud by winning the 36-hole Emirates Golf Federation OOM Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in early May, edging JGE teen Arjun Gupta in a sudden death playoff for his maiden EGF title after a run of near misses.
Fisher survived another nerve-jangling playoff to land an even bigger title for the little 9-hole club that could at the weekend as SGSC overcame regional superpower and perennial title contenders Emirates Golf Club in the UAE Scratch League Final.
The two-day decider went to sudden death after the honours where shared on the Majlis 2-2 and the Peter Harradine-designed Sharjah layout, also 2-2, in regulation play, making it 4-4. SGSC opted for Fisher (+3.3 handicap) and Chinese 15-year-old Zi (William) Ang Xu (+0.6 handicap) to face former touring professional Mike Mezei (+3.8) and Kenny Babcock (+2.5) in overtime. It was some matchup with Fisher and Xu unbeaten all season and the Emirates G.C. duo flawless in the Grand Final.
“Miracle” par saves from Babcock and Mezei, the former from sand and the latter from water, kept Emirates GC in it on the 1st and 2nd respectively before the quartet halved the 3rd, again in pars.
Fisher then produced the telling blow, his 4-iron from 220 yards finding the back of the 553-yard par-5, 4th at Sharjah. The four-time SGSC champion rolled the ensuing 30-footer to three feet and then held his nerve to clinch the title before a rowdy crowd of nearly 50.
SGSC Director of Golf, Martin Duff, singled out Fisher and Xu, who only made his debut for the team in January, for special praise afterwards.
“I am extremely proud of everyone involved but the way our two players played the four playoff holes really was quite incredible and I really do believe they deserved the win,” said Duff.
The victory capped a memorable season for SGSC which celebrated its 10th anniversary in March with a second successful staging of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters, the only tour event played on a 9-hole course. The Staysure Tour (formerly European Senior Tour) season-opener was won by Thai Thaworn Wiratchant.
“The golf course turned 10 years old at the start of March and to have won a title like the UAE Scratch League, beating much bigger clubs with much bigger memberships really is something for everyone involved to be extremely proud of,“ Duff continued.
SGSC had earlier edged Abu Dhabi Golf Club in their Scratch League semifinal while Emirates overcame Dubai Golf sister club, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, to reach the final.