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Dennis sets pace at SSGM
March 09, 2018
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SAHRJAH: American Clark Dennis hit a bogey-free opening round 65 to roar into the early lead at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters (SSGM), presented by Shurooq at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club on Thursday.

The opening round of the tournament saw players, caddies and officials wearing purple to mark the official commencement of the newly named Staysure Tour (formerly the European Senior Tour).

It’s the colour of the UK-based insurance company for over 50s which is now the sponsor of the tour.

“It’s great. I played very nicely today,” said Dennis. I didn’t make a bogey and I think I only missed one green. It was a pretty stress-free round, I hit a lot of good shots and could have been a few lower.”

The 52-year-old made an impressive start to the day with three birdies in his opening six holes to set the pace early before lighting up the course on the second loop of the nine-hole track, picking up four birdies in a row from 12 to 15 to get to seven under par.

“It was a really good day and it was a real honour to be able to hit the first shot of the new Staysure Tour in perfect conditions, not a breath of wind for nine holes,” said Dennis.

“The greens are perfect and the course is in phenomenal condition. It’s great to be at the top of the leaderboard - that’s certainly where I want to be at the end of the week.”

Frenchman Marc Farry goes into day two in a share of second place after shooting an opening round of 68.

The two-time Staysure Tour winner started the day in red hot form with a front nine of 33 to leave him sitting three under par.

Another three birdies over his first four holes on the back nine put him right in the mix but back to back bogeys on 15 and 16 meant he finished three off the pace at four under par after the opening round.

“I’m very very happy with the round,” said Farry. “I’ve been working on my short game, especially on my putting the last few weeks in America. The greens are a similar speed and surface to what I have been practising on in Florida.”

Englishman Philip Golding and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant joined the 58-year-old in second after also scoring four under par.

England’s Peter Baker and James Kingston of South Africa make up the top five after rounds of three under par left them four off the lead with a further two rounds to play.

Meanwhile Kingston’s fellow countryman Chris Williams will be hoping for a better second day after the defending champion could only muster a level par score after his first 18 holes on the course that yielded his second Staysure Tour title 12 months ago.

“I was a bit disappointed with my performance out there today,” said the South African.

“It’s great to return here as the defending champion but there’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders which made me quite nervous to begin with. I had my chances today but couldn’t take them.”

Amateur Namir Al Naimi, a member at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club who booked his place in the field via a local qualifier, shot a highly respectable 74 while fellow amateur Steven Kelbrick is one shot further back.

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