Glenn Ralph made a brilliant start to the defence of his Cleveland Golf / Srixon Scottish Senior Open crown at Fairmont St Andrews by firing an excellent opening score of four under par 68 in difficult conditions around the Torrance Course.
The Englishman, who recently discovered he is diabetic, fired four birdies and a single bogey to tie South African Chris Williams at the top of the leaderboard.
Playing alongside Sam Torrance (-1) and Barry Lane (-3), Ralph outscored his playing partners to rekindle fond memories of his breakthrough victory at Fairmont St Andrews 12 months ago. He also banished the notion that suffering from diabetes would affect his golf.
“That was a great way to start the defence of the title: in fact it probably couldn’t have gone much better,” said Ralph after signing his card.
“I played a beautiful golf course today alongside two of the nicest guys you could play with in Sam Torrance and Barry Lane. I played nicely all day – there was nothing spectacular on the card but nothing disastrous either, I was very steady and that is what you are looking for.
“I am alright at the moment – I was diagnosed with diabetes just eight weeks ago so I am starting to get used to that and starting to manage it with medication and just getting used to it. I have Type 2 diabetes which is controlled with tablets and it has taken a while to come to terms with that and get used to managing it.”
Williams managed his way around the Torrance Course in a similar fashion to Ralph, notching five birdies and just a single dropped shot to take a share of the lead.
The South African has been a model of consistency throughout the season with six top ten finishes, including two second places, taking him to fifth on the Order of Merit.
“I drove the ball very well today which you have to do on this golf course and then putted well and when you put those two together it usually makes for a pretty potent combination! You have to do those two things well, especially round this golf course.
“I was just very steady out there today – very uneventful to be honest. I have had some good finishes this year and a good start to my Senior career with a couple of second place finishes, I just hope that the win will come soon but it is getting harder and harder to do that out here because the players that are joining this tour are raising the standard every year and making it more difficult to close the tournaments out.”
Torrance played well from tee to green over his own golf course but was left to lament a poor putting stroke that turned a potentially great round into a one under 71.
“I’m disappointed,” said the former Ryder Cup Captain. “I played really well and had 35 putts. But I hit the ball really solid and that’s a good sign. Conditions were really tough. It was a tough test but very playable. My long game is on the mend. My problem all year has been my first round so it’s good to get a decent score.”
Lane was joined on three under by Argentina’s Luis Carbonetti, who finished second here last year, American Doug Johnson and England’s DJ Russell, while the Scottish duo of Terry Burgoyne and Andrew Oldcorn played themselves into contention on two under alongside the Australian pair of Mike Clayton and Peter Fowler as well as England’s Peter Mitchell.