A change of driver inspired Englishman Denis Durnian to a three under par 69 in the first round of the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club, which gave him a one shot lead.
The 62 year old, by his own admission, has struggled to find the fairways this season, but a new club was just the remedy as he carded seven birdies, two bogeys and a double to go top of the pile, ahead of nine players on two under par.
Durnian, whose last of three Senior Tour victories came in 2002, said: “I’ve been driving it so badly all season, so the Ping guy gave me a new driver the other day, and today I ripped it down the middle of every fairway. I’ve not been on the fairways all year, so it was a nice change not to always be hitting out of the trees.
“Everything else was going nicely today and I holed a few good putts. I got a bit nervous towards the end but hung on and three under par is a good score. The three birdies in a row around the turn (from the eighth) really gave me some momentum.
“As a rule I drive the ball straight, which you have to do on this golf course. So it has been particularly frustrating lately and I’m pleased to have improved a lot today.”
One of the group at two under par is Peter Fowler, last season’s Order of Merit winner who was presented with the 2011 Rolex Player of the Year award at Thursday evening’s annual Senior Tour awards dinner.
“Maybe last night inspired me to a good round,” the Australian joked. “I made a slow start, but then played really well on the back nine. The eagle at the 11th really got me going – I hit a great drive and then a five wood to about five feet and holed the putt.
“That gave me some momentum and I was able to finish off nicely and put myself in a good position for the weekend. I always feel good when the weather is nice, and we were lucky to have such a good day today after two days of heavy rain.
“The course is always tidy and it’s a fun week. Here’s to a good weekend.”
The other players at two under par are Tony Johnstone, who has recently been employed as Lee Westwood’s short game coach, Scots Russ Drummond and Gordon Brand Jnr, Englishmen John Gould, Mark Belsham and Andrew Sherborne, Spaniard Juan Quiros and American Mike Cunning.
Defending champion Boonchu Runagkit opened with a two over par 74, the same score as England’s Barry Lane, who was tied second here last year, and his compatriot Phil Golding, who has finished runner-up in his last two tournaments.