Canadian Phil Jonas hailed his improved form after a first round seven under par 65 sent him to the top of the WINSTONgolf Senior Open leaderboard.
The 51 year old Qualifying School graduate admitted he has struggled of late, so a round featuring nine birdies against two bogeys at the stunning WINSTONgolf in Germany to lead by one shot from Dane Steen Tinning was particularly welcome.
“I haven’t been playing that well recently, so it’s nice for something good to happen,” said Jonas, whose best finish this season is tied eighth in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open.
“I’ve felt as though I’m starting to play better, and when I was warming up I thought there might be a hint of a low score there. But I must admit I didn’t expect it to be this good.
“I got lucky a few times, where I hit bad shots but they ended up near the hole. I putted well and made a couple of 20-footers, plus many from five or six feet. I was very solid on the greens.
“This is the first year I’ve played on this course and I like it a lot. It’s fun to play. In fact, I’ve liked every course we’ve played on the Senior Tour this season.”
The €400,000 event is played in a pro-am format, with each professional pairing up with an amateur, and Jonas added: “It’s something different and you get to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. I’m from Canada and today I not only played with a fellow pro but two guys from Holland. It makes it interesting.”
Tinning has been on fine form since his maiden Senior Tour victory in the Berenberg Masters last month, after which he completed a half Ironman competition in Germany.
Despite winning on just his sixth appearance as an over-50, he has tinkered with his swing over the past couple of weeks – and to good effect.
“I’ve changed a few things in the last few weeks and it has worked,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “It didn’t feel right the last couple of weeks. I had a little bit of luck out there today as well. If I got into trouble I still made par or birdie, and that why it was a 66 and not a 69.
“It’s always nice to go out first and get the best of the greens. It was a little windy when we went out but it soon dropped. The course is playing very nicely and if you hit it well you will have a lot of chances to make birdie.”
Tinning’s playing partner Peter Fowler, the 2011 Order of Merit winner, was another shot back at five under, alongside Henrik Buhrmann of South Africa and Paraguay's Angel Franco.