By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Rockliffe Hall
After striking the opening drive on Friday morning to launch the returning English Senior Open, England’s Peter Mitchell wasted no time in moving clear of the field at Rockliffe Hall.
The 55 year old Kent native, winner of four Senior Tour titles, got the fifth edition of the tournament under way in County Durham at precisely 0940 local time and birdied the par four first hole before adding a further gain at the short third.
Two successive birdies from the eighth hole saw Mitchell complete a fine front nine 32 to move to four under par for the round, one shot clear of Spaniard Juan Quiros as the day progressed.
As the English Senior Open returns to the European Senior Tour schedule for the first time since 2007, former Ryder Cup captain Mark James was amongst a group one shot further back on two under par.
Also at that mark as the action continued was South African Steve Van Vuuren, who has the unique advantage of a special caddie this week – namely Rockliffe Hall course designer Marc Westenborg.
There were excellent crowds at the stunning five-star resort on Friday despite a damp start to proceedings.
After the early rain clouds cleared leaving Rockliffe basking in glorious sunshine, an excellent afternoon was in prospect.