Frenchman Marc Farry made the perfect start to his defence of the Cannes Mougins Masters with an opening round 66 to share the lead with Australian Mike Harwood and former Senior Open Champion Bruce Vaughan.
Farry, who is also co-organising the European Senior Tour event at Cannes Mougins, posted five birdies and an eagle on the 14th hole to match Harwood’s clubhouse target of six under par, a feat later equalled by American Vaughan who was invited to play in the tournament by Farry.
After finishing tied fifth in the Casa Serena Open last week – his best finish of the season since starting the campaign with a share of fourth place in Australia – Farry is feeling confident about his chances of retaining his title.
“It’s not a bad defence so far,” said the 52 year old. “No complaints! I had a so-so start, making an up and down on the first two holes but from that point on I played well.
“I had one bad shot on the 13th when I aimed at the trap with a wedge and the ball never moved so I ended up in the trap but then I stiffed my approach to the next hole to two feet to hole for an eagle and holed two good birdies putts on the next two.
“Overall I’m pleased. It was great conditions for scoring. There is always a bit of pressure when you are defending and organising the tournament but I sank a couple of 25 footers which helped.
“I played very steadily last week which was good preparation for this tournament. This game is a question of confidence and when you get your confidence back you feel like you can shoot low. Last week certainly helped then coming back to a course where I won and feel comfortable on helps as well.”
Harwood, meanwhile, carded four birdies and an eagle three on the eighth hole when he holed from just off the green but admits his round could have been even better had his putter been hot.
The 52 year old finished tied seventh in the Casa Serena Open last week when he struggled on the greens and similar problems affected his round again at Cannes Mougins.
“I played very nicely today – I missed four putts from three feet, which shows I played exceptional tee to green,” said Harwood.
“It was disappointing to miss those putts but my iron play was great today. I never hit a bad shot all day and it is a long time since I could say that. It’s been coming though. I putted terribly last week and started off the same way but I hit the ball so well that I had a couple of tap ins which made it easy.
“I haven’t played nicely for a while so it is nice to. I’ve made a couple of little swing changes and they are starting to come together. I’m feeling more confident. I don’t feel like I’m going to do something steady. I’ve been that all year and I just need to put myself in there.”
Vaughan, who won The Senior Open Championship at Royal Troon in 2008, fired seven birdies, with his only bogey of the day coming on the 13th.
“It’s probably the best I’ve putted this year,” said Vaughan. “My putting let me down last week in the Czech Republic so I’ve worked on that. I putted nicely today.
“I need to finish in the top ten to play next week in Portugal so the pressure is on.”
Argentine Horacio Carbonetti is the nearest challenger to the leading trio, two shots back after a 68 with five players tied for fifth on three under par, including Spaniard Manuel Moreno who eagled the seventh and ninth holes.
Englishman Barry Lane, winner last week in the Czech Republic, opened with a two under par 70 which included a treble bogey seven on the 17th hole. Lane is trying to catch Australian Peter Fowler at the top of the Order of Merit and Fowler also suffered as costly mishap when his ball nestled on a buggy on the 16th hole and he went on to make a bogey, eventually signing for a level par 72 to lie six shots off the pace.