Trio tied for the lead at Carnoustie

7/22/2010 8:27:52 PM
Carl Mason  (Getty Images)
Carl Mason (Getty Images)

Germany's Bernhard Langer, England's Carl Mason and American Jay Don Blake share the lead after the first day of The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Carnoustie.

Mason, who is looking to win what would be a 24th Senior Tour title, shot a four under par 67 late in the day to join Langer - who is chasing his first Senior Major after a string of near misses - and Blake at the top of the leaderboard.

"If this was the 24th, that would be something special, wouldn't it?" said Mason when asked about the possibility of breaking Tommy Horton's Senior Tour record with a first Major.

"There's a long way to go, and so if I can keep playing as good as I have done today."

"I was thrilled to bits the way I played, I played great.

"It’s the best I've played for a good few weeks, so that was good. I felt good, and I started rolling in the putts and hit some great shots and four sort of birdies in a row really got me moving.

Mason came close to winning The Senior Open in 2005 when he lost in a play-off to Tom Watson and similarly Langer has also come close to a maiden Senior Major triumph.

Langer has dominated the Champions Tour in the US in recent years - highlighted by consecutive Order of Merit titles in 2008 and 2009 -  but is yet to add a Major  victory in the over-50s category to the two Masters Tournaments he won.

His hopes of capturing a first Senior Major in 13 attempts - he has had seven top ten finishes - were boosted by a birdie at the first and then a hattrick from the seventh to turn in a four under par 32.

And despite a level par 35 on the way in, Langer was still delighted with his day's work.

"I'm very happy with it, said the former Ryder Cup Captain. "I birdied the very first hole and had some further chances the next few holes, then had a nice run there on seven, eight, nine when I birdied those three - there's a lot of tough holes on the back nine.

"I had some good approach putts from off the green when I missed a couple of greens here or there. I was able to get my approach putts pretty close and save par - it's a very tough finish. Those last few holes are all straight into the wind, and they are playing very long.

"I played very well. I kept the ball in play, I drove it pretty good and hit a number of fairways.

"When I didn't hit the fairway, I was either fortunate enough to get a reasonable lie or miss some trouble and hit those shots out of the rough pretty good. Made a few putts and hit my irons fairly close."

In contrast to Langer, Blake did most of his good work on the back nine.

Having turned in 35, the 51 year old recorded three birdies in four holes from the tenth.

"You know, I hit a lot of good shots," said Blake, whose only US PGA Tour victory came 19 years ago.

"Mike Reid, my playing partner says, ‘I never really did anything spectacular'. I hit a lot of fairways and played smart shots to the greens and made some putts here and there.

"I just tried to execute myself around the golf course and be patient. It's a golf course that you can't be aggressive because everything runs up to the pin so much that you can't fly it to the flags like we are used to over in the courses we play in America.

"I've had to learn a whole new game, which is fun - it's exciting, but it's tough. I've just tried to stay out of those death bunkers that I call them - it's a one shot penalty just getting in those. It's pretty tough, tough track out there, and I'm very pleased with what I shot."

Those one shot further back include 2008 winner Bruce Vaughan, who was joined on three under by American compatriots Mark Wiebe and Dan Forsman. Former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, the 2009 Senior Tour Order of Merit winner, is two shots off the pace after a 69, along with the current US Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin.