Ian Woosnam produced a links golf master class at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club to roar into the first round lead at the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open.
With a significant home crowd willing his ball into every hole, Woosnam responded with a fine six under par 65 to establish a one stroke lead over Englishman Phil Golding and Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn, with defending champion Barry Lane a further shot back alongside another Scot, Ross Drummond, and Frenchman Marc Farry.
But it was Woosie’s day on the links of Porthcawl, with the former Masters Champion delighting the home crowds with six birdies and no dropped shots when conditions demanded the highest level of performance to overcome the mighty Porthcawl.
“Considering the rain woke me up this morning, I think we got the best of the conditions,” laughed Woosnam. “Thankfully that rain didn’t last but it was still very tricky out there today and I am delighted with how I played.
“You can always say it could have been a couple of shots better here and there, but all in all I am happy with how I played and hopefully I can keep it going and become the first Welshman to win this title.”
Despite his own outstanding first round performance, Oldcorn was quick to identify Woosnam as the man to beat this week.
He said: “If Woosie is in that kind of mood then he is the man I will be trying to stay close to. He can still play to such a high level when he gets going so it might be a case of hanging onto to his coat tails because if you can stay close to him this weekend you are probably not going to be too far away from the top of the leaderboard.
“I played some lovely stuff out there today and was pleased with it. The form is coming and I have been playing well for the last few weeks so it would be nice to turn that into a positive result.
“But you just never know with links golf do you? It was tough out there today and we are hearing it is to be similar if not tougher tomorrow, so you really just have to take each days as it comes because you never know what the weather is going to throw at you on a links course.”
Golding, meanwhile, is looking to go one better than last year, when he was pipped to the Speedy Services Wales Senor Open title by a single stroke by Lane.
The Englishman certainly got his title bid off to a great start as he picked up eight birdies in an opening 66 to join Oldcorn in a tie for second spot.
“I am realty pleased with that,” said Golding. “This is not a golf course where you expect to make eight birdies on so it was a pretty good day out there.”
While the day certainly belonged to Woosnam, there was high praise for Drummond’s opening 67 which was carded in the toughest conditions of the day as torrential rain and gusting winds batterred Porthcawl from the Atlantic Ocean.
Oldcorn certainly agreed that Drummond’s first round must have been special. He said: “I was getting my stuff out of the car this morning when I saw Ross coming down the first and it was just absolutely brutal. His 67 is almost certainly the best of the day.”
Drummond began his professional career at one of the world’s great links venues at Turnberry, admitted his links golf background was the key to overcoming the early conditions.
Standing on the first tee Drummond admitted that a score of 67 was the farthest thing from his mind, but a birdie on the second to cancel out his opening bogey steadied the ship before conditions cleared and allowed the 56 year old Scot to fully express his links golf talent as he notched three birdies in his closing six holes to move into contention.
“I certainly wasn’t thinking 67 on that first tee this morning!” smiled Drummond. “It was one of those mornings when you are standing on the first tee thinking par is very much your friend today.
“But as the conditions calmed down a bit I realised I was playing pretty good and really enjoyed it out there. I have played links golf all my life and, living in Prestwick, I still play most of my golf on links courses. There is definitely a more instinctive feel to playing links golf. You have to know when to play the correct shot and a lot of that just comes from experience I suppose.”