Steen Tinning of Denmark and Paul Wesselingh of England with the John Jacobs Trophy (Getty Images)
Paul Wesselingh maintained the upper hand in his battle with Steen Tinning for the John Jacobs Trophy, ending the opening round of the season-ending MCB Tour Championship four strokes lower than his rival.
The Englishman has a €47,936 cushion over the Dane in the Order of Merit, meaning that Tinning would need to claim the first prize of €62,814 and hope Wesselingh finishes outside the top seven.
The pair posed alongside the John Jacobs Trophy before playing together in the first round, and it was Wesselingh who moved another step closer to lifting it, carding a five under par 66 compared to Tinning’s one under par 71.
After dropping only his second shot of the day on the 14th, Wesselingh birdied the closing two holes of the Legend Course at Constance Belle Mare Plage to sit one shot behind first round leader Miguel Angel Martin of Spain, in a share of second place with Roger Chapman.
It was Chapman who lifted the John Jacobs Trophy in Mauritius 12 months ago and Wesselingh was satisfied with his opening round as he bids to succeed him as the Senior Tour Number One.
“It was a nice to play with Steen as it was the first time we played together this year,” said Wesselingh.
“He got a bit of a lead early on and then we drew level. Steen had a bit of bad luck on the 14th there and that meant I got a bit ahead, but I had a nice round and I’m very happy.
“I’ve only met Steen this last year but I really like him. We have the same sense of humour and we chatted away. It was nice to finish ahead of him but I was trying not to think about it too much.
“I thought if kept birdieing myself then he has to do the work. You can’t think too much about the Order of Merit out there. When I dropped that shot on the 14th I actually thought I was trying to protect it and then had to stop that. I started going for it then and finished with two birdies.”
Wesselingh has become renowned in recent months for finishing strongly, so he was particularly pleased to be in such a strong position from the outset of the season-ending event.
“The fast start is probably due to the confidence I have,” he said. “It’s probably taken me 18 months to get used to being on the Tour. If you are leading the Order of Merit it gives you confidence. There’s a long way to go though. I didn’t think the scoring would be as low as it was today, so you never know in this game.”