Simon Brown put on a master class from tee to green on his way to posting an opening round of 67 at the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Finals, in Portugal.
The Englishman has recently been receiving lessons from renowned swing coach and Sky Sports TV analyst Denis Pugh – whose clients include the Molinari brothers – and the decision is proving an inspired one as Brown notched five birdies and an eagle on a glorious day at Pestana Resort’s Vale da Pinta course, in the Algarve.
Brown’s trio of bogeys were all the result of three-putts from distance, and the 49 year old – a teaching pro at Golf Club Rhein-Sieg near Bonn, Germany, for over 20 years – was understandably delighted with a display which makes him a strong early contender to claim one of the six full cards available for the 2013 Senior Tour schedule.
The highlight of Brown’s round came at the 12th hole – his third – where he chipped in for eagle from 20 yards.
Brown, who finished in a tie for eighth place at last week’s First Stage, said: “That was definitely a bonus. I actually didn’t hit the best of drives and pulled my second shot a little, so I was maybe a little fortunate to walk away with an eagle – but I’ll certainly take it!
“The conditions were ideal and the course is in great shape, so I knew I needed to take advantage and get off to a fast start, and luckily I managed to do just that.
“It was obviously a bit disappointing to have three three-putts, but these things happen. From tee to green I played very well, so I’m really happy with the way I’m hitting the ball. If I can putt a bit better over the next few days I should have a good chance, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Brown’s fellow Englishman Mark Wharton is currently in second place on three under par after a flawless display which featured birdies at the second, 12th and 17th holes.
Wharton has been a member of John O’Gaunt Golf Club, in Bedfordshire, for the past 40 years, and relinquished his amateur status three months ago with a handicap of plus three.
He joined the professional ranks with the sole aim of securing a place on the Senior Tour, and moved a step closer to achieving his dream after winning the First Stage.
Wharton, who won the Sunningdale Foursomes in 2002, finished two strokes clear of the field on five under par at Silves Golf Course last week, and his fine form continued with a 68 which was the only bogey-free round of the day.
He said: “I found a bit of trouble at the 14th and 15th but managed to save par from 30 feet and ten feet, so that really kept my round going. I left my birdies putts inches short on the 16th and 18th but holed one from 25 feet on the 17th, so I left a couple out there but also holed a fair share of long ones, so overall a 68 was probably a fair score. I think I only missed two or three greens today, so it was very solid stuff for the most part.
“Winning the First Stage last week was a real morale booster, and I’ve carried that into this week. I thought if I putted well this week I’d give myself half a chance, and it’s working out very well at the moment. The game’s been in great shape since I turned pro in October, so I was quite confident coming into the two weeks and it’s a case of so far, so good.”
Third place is shared between the English duo of Graeme Bell and Richard Masters, Swede Peter Dahlberg, Australian John Martin and American Robert Thompson, who all signed for two under par rounds of 69.
Six full and eight conditional cards are on offer to the 75-man field, which will be reduced after three rounds, with all players within eight shots of the lead competing on the final day.