Sam Torrance and Katsuyoshi Tomori are the men to catch in The Hague after both signed for rounds of 69 on the opening day of the Van Lanschot Seniors Open.
The duo defied blustery conditions at Royal Haagsche Golf and Country Club, in The Netherlands, to set the clubhouse target on three under par, one stroke clear of a quartet of challengers.
The highlight of Torrance’s day came at the sixth, where he hit a six iron to four feet and rolled in the putt to record only the second birdie of the day on the toughest hole on the course.
The former Ryder Cup-winning Captain also made gains at the first, third, fifth and 12th holes, but gave two shots back on the fourth and 11th.
Having seen his friend and fellow John Jacobs Trophy winner Ian Woosnam return to winning ways at last week’s Berenberg Bank Masters, Torrance is keen to capture his first title of the 2011 Senior Tour season.
He said: “I was just consistent all day really. I got off to a good start with two birdies in my first three holes and after that I played very nicely, without really holing a lot of long putts – but I also didn’t miss many short ones either. It was just a very solid day, and a great way to start the tournament.
“It was very tough in the wind. Seaside links courses are always tough when the wind’s blowing, and this course is no different. It’s tough to find the greens, and then when you miss the green it’s just as tough to get up and down. So I’ve got to be very happy with a 69, because it wasn’t easy out there at all today. Hopefully the wind will die down a little over the next two days, and scoring becomes a bit easier.”
Tomori’s birdies came in two bursts, with gains at the 12th and 13th holes followed by four in a row from the 16th.
That moved the 56 year old from Japan to five under par and into a clear lead, but bogeys at the tough sixth and the eighth hole saw him drop back into a tie for the lead.
Tomori said: “My putting from close range was very good today – especially on the front nine, where I hardly missed anything from inside six feet. On the back nine I didn’t play quite so well, but overall it was still a good day.”
The same applies to American Doug Johnson, who notched two birdies on the front nine and added another after the turn to finish on two under par alongside Australian Mike Harwood, England’s David J Russell and Spaniard Manuel Moreno.
The highlight of Russell’s round was an eagle three at the first hole, although he promptly undid all his hard work with a double bogey at the next hole.
His compatriot George Ryall’s title defence got off to a testing start, as his troublesome back injury hampered him in a round of 74.
The star attraction amongst the amateurs competing alongside the professionals was former Dutch international footballer Marco van Basten, who bettered playing partner Costantino Rocca’s score on six holes to contribute impressively towards a combined net score of 68.