The American has enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2012 in just his second year on the Senior Tour, having gained entry in 2011 via Qualifying School, and now he has set his focus on the next big step up – a top four finish in the Order of Merit and consequently, a place in the US Senior Open next year.He certainly got off to the perfect start at Miramar Golf and Country club in Taipei as he opened with a six under par 66 to join Dahlberg at the top.
His round took some time to get going as he adjusted to the pace of the greens but when he did, the Texan was unstoppable as he holed a 15 footer from just off the green at the sixth for eagle before following that with two successive birdies to reach the turn in four under par.He gained two more shots at the tenth and 14th holes before parring his way home to enter the weekend in perfect shape to reach his week target of 14 under par.
“I hit some really good shots today,” said the 51 year old. “It took me while to get a grip of the greens here. They have some grain on them and I just needed to get the speeds right but it is a beautiful course out here and it is in tremendous shape.“It is certainly tiring coming all the way out here but I coped with it well today and I will certainly sleep tonight.
“There are a lot of good players out here but my aim now is to go on and keep hold of a top four spot in the Order of Merit, so I really wanted to play well here and then go on to have a good week in Mauritius.“A top four place means a spot in the US Senior Open as well as having my hotel paid for in Mauritius so that would be great!
“The rest of the week will all depend on the conditions now I think. It was quite breezy for the practice rounds but we had very benign conditions for the first round so hopefully it can stay calm for the weekend because that really helps out here.“I’m at six under par now and I think if I can get to 14 under by Sunday that will be a very hard score to beat.”
One man who will be trying to do just that is Dahlberg, who said he took great heart from a vote of confidence from friend and Senior Tour star Barry Lane as he got off to an ideal start with a 66 that boosts his hopes of a first career Senior Tour victory.Hi best round on the tour since 2008 came courtesy of two huge putts of over 25 feet for birdie and he is confident that he can claim his first victory in the Taiwanese capital.
“I’m feeling great, said the Swede. “A round like that has been a long time coming. It sounds silly to say it but it just seemed easy. I only missed one fairway and three greens and every time I missed a green, I got up and down.“My two playing partners were joking with me that I prefer long putts because I holes those two big ones but I also missed four putts from within five feet so they must be right!
“My irons were really good today and was driving very nicely. I only got into trouble from the tee on one occasion and I managed to escape and get up and down for par.“I really wanted to do something this week to get into the top 70 so that’s my aim now. If I can do that I won’t have to play Senior Qualifying First Stage and that can be quite draining.
“It would be fantastic to get my first win here. Barry Lane said to me recently that I am playing good enough golf and I should just keep doing what I’m doing and something will happen so hopefully that will happen this week and it would be a perfect early wedding gift for me and my fiancée as we’re getting married in January.”
JD Kim was the highest-placed Asian after the opening day as he joined England’s Andrew Murray in tied second place on five under par.
The Japan player had a flawless day as he birdied the fourth, ninth, tenth and 12th before delighting the home crowds with a birdie at the 18th to move to within one shot of the lead.
Defending champion Chien Soon Lu will need a good weekend if he is to retain his crown after the Taiwan player opened with a level par round of 72.