Englishman Roger Chapman continued his fine recent form on the European Senior Tour with a five under par opening round 67 to sit three shots behind leader Chien Soon Lu of Taiwan in the Fubon Senior Open.
Chapman, who is chasing his maiden Senior Tour title, eagled the par five sixth hole at Miramar Golf & Country Club and posted five birdies, including a superb four iron approach to the last hole, to set the clubhouse target which was then equalled by Frankie Minoza of the Philippines and Massy Kuramoto of Japan.
However, playing in the last group and on home soil, Lu fired a magnificent eight under par 64 to pass the trio, carding nine birdies and just one bogey on the 16th hole.
Lu, who finished in the top 20 in in both The Senior Open Championship and US Senior Open Championship in 2010, is confident he can contend this week having finished 24th on the US Champions Tour Money List this year.
“I’ve played well in America this year and it is my first time playing in this tournament,” he said. “I feel good about my chances of winning this week and it would be the highlight of my year if I could do so.”
Chapman has three top six finishes in his last four appearances, including joint runner up at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters and tied third in the Casa Serena Open, and he is confident he can make his Senior Tour breakthrough in the penultimate event of the 2011 campaign.
“Spending a bit of time in America on the US Champions Tour this year was good experience for me and it toughened me up a bit,” said the 52 year old. “I’ve brought that back with me and I’ve been playing well. I’m now feeling very confident and hopefully I can keep it going.
“I played really well today and drove the ball well. I pulled my first drive a little but apart from that I drove it really well. There was no wind at all today after two really windy days and the course was soft from all the rain we’ve had so conditions were good for scoring. I’ve been struggling with a hip problem and had to take painkillers before I played but it was a good start.”
Kuramoto is chasing his second victory of the 2011 season after capturing the Handa Cup Senior Masters in his native Japan last November.
Minoza’s best Senior Tour finish was runner up to Boonchu Ruangkit in last season’s Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum and he is hoping to go one better this week despite injury problems.
“I’ve been having a bit of a problem with my wrist but my iron play was really good today,” he said. “I feel I having a chance of winning this week if I play like this.”
Taiwan’s Lin De-Ming is four under par alongside American amateur Lorens Chan, with Englishman Nick Job one of three players a shot further back in tied seventh place.
American Doug Johnson had a hole in one on the par three third hold en route to a two under par 70. Aside from that hole, Johnson posted 17 pars and is in a share of tenth place with five other players including Scotland’s Ross Drummond, Sweden’s Anders Forsbrand and Welshman Glyn Davies.