Brendan McGovern showed great resilience to claim a top-20 finish at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the first event of the Senior year.
Brendan McGovern / Image from Getty Images
The Headfort professional bounced back from a nightmare front nine of 42 to fly home in 33 shots on his way to a closing two-over-par 74 and a tied-18th finish.
He carded three bogeys and a double on his outward half but recovered with four birdies on the way in to finish his tournament on level par, picking up a cheque worth € 4,870 for his efforts.
McGovern looked comfortable in his new surroundings, outscoring the other Irish in the field in a very impressive opening bow.
1989 European Tour Number One Ronan Rafferty was next best of the Irish as he finished on plus six for the tournament in a tie for 36th while Des Smyth fired a much improved two-under-par 70 to grab a share of 42nd on plus nine while Ryder Cup hero. Phillip Walton, finished with a three-over-par 75, plus ten for the tournament in a tie for 46th.
At the business end of proceedings, Thaworn Wiratchant defeated Clark Dennis and Peter Fowler in a four-hole play-off at the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq to win back-to-back Staysure Tour titles at the first event of the 2018 season.
The Thai, who won the last Staysure Tour event, the 2017 season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius, made par on the 18th at the fourth attempt, beating Dennis who kept pace with him for three extra holes at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club.
Fowler was knocked out of the play-off after a bogey on the first extra hole, leaving Dennis and Wiratchant to do battle under floodlights as darkness fell on the Emirate of Sharjah.
“It was really difficult out there today,” said Wiratchant, a two-time Asian Tour Number One. “The first day was easier because I played in the morning and the greens weren’t as hard. The pin positions were tough today.”
“I had to be so patient during the play-off, it was tough playing the 18th four times. I have never played in the dark before, it was tough to adjust and not lose concentration.”
“I am so happy to win my second Staysure Tour title. I want to be consistent and have a really good year.”
Wiratchant started the day tied for the lead with Dennis on 11 under par, but the pair found themselves trailing Fowler, who carded a course record of 64 in Friday’s second round, for most of the afternoon on the nine-hole Peter Harradine-designed layout.
The 51 year old moved to 12 under par after a birdie on the fourth hole, but Fowler drew level after a birdie on the second hole and his third eagle of the weekend on the sixth/15th hole.
A bogey on the ninth from Wiratchant, his only dropped shot of the 54-hole tournament, saw him trail Fowler and the Australian increased his advantage with a birdie on the 13th.
Fowler then dropped a shot on the 17th, and Dennis, who was level par through 17 holes, birdied the last to force a three-man play-off.
After Fowler’s elimination, Dennis and Wiratchant both parred the 18th hole three times, before Dennis found trouble with his fourth tee shot, and the subsequent recovery, and Wiratchant tapped in for par and a winner’s cheque of more than €51,000.
The next event on the 2018 Staysure Tour schedule is the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbor, Michigan, United States, the week before the Tour returns to Europe for the inaugural Shipco Masters promoted by Simon’s Golf Club, Denmark.