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Rafferty is out to roll back years as 2017 Senior Tour tees off in UAE

By Robert Jones

Northern Ireland's Ronan Rafferty is hoping for a strong start to the 2017 European Senior Tour season at the inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq in the UAE 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," said Rafferty.

"It's a good course with some tricky greens but it doesn't feel like a nine-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 interacting. 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.

"There's a great field, with every player in the top 20 of the 2016 Senior Tour Order of Merit signed up to play. 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. It would be great if the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters were to lead to another Senior Tour event in the region."

Rafferty was European Tour No.1 in 1988 after three wins, which earned him a place in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. He clinched a crucial point with a 1-up win over Mark Calcavecchia to help Europe to a 14-14 draw, successfully retaining the Cup.

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