Eternal bridesmaid Angel Franco of Paraguay and Englishman Bob Cameron shared the clubhouse lead on one under par on a blustery opening day at the De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship.
Franco has seven runner-up finishes to his name in three seasons on the European Senior Tour, including a pair in the past two editions of the £250,000 event, which is again being played on the Hunting Course at De Vere Slaley Hall in Hexham, England.
But the 53 year old will be hoping to cure his “seconditis” after signing for a round of 71 which included a run of three successive birdies from the seventh hole.
Franco said: “I played very well today, because the conditions were tough. It was quite cold and very windy – I’m not used to this type of weather where I come from! The three birdies from the seventh hole warmed me up – I holed a long putt from 15 feet on the eighth, then hit my best tee shot of the day on the ninth to set up another birdie. So that was a good run, but the back nine wasn’t quite as good. It was disappointing to finish with a bogey on the 18th but it’s a difficult hole, so I can’t really complain too much.”
Likewise, Cameron was disinclined to complain after matching Franco’s round of 71 courtesy of four birdies and three bogeys.
The 58 year old made his gains in two quickfire bursts, picking up shots at the third, fourth, 14th and 15th holes to get his quest for a third Senior Tour title off to a solid start.
Cameron said: “I’m extremely pleased with a 71, because it’s very windy and the pins were quite tough, so anything on or around par is a pretty good score. The highlight of the round was probably my par save on the second hole, which was especially important as I’d just bogeyed the first.
“I found the bunker off the tee and had to lay up short of the ditch with my second, but then hit a nice wedge to six feet and rolled in the putt. I felt pretty pleased with myself walking off the green and then went and birdied the next two holes, so that really turned things around for me. It was a bit of a struggle to get going first thing, but gradually my round got better along with the weather.”
With the afternoon groups yet to complete their rounds, Cameron and Franco currently lead by one stroke from the English trio of Peter Allan, Stephen Bennett and Richard Green, the Scottish duo of Gordon Brand Jnr and Ross Drummond, Australian Mike Harwood and Welshman Mark Mouland.