Tommy Horton finds himself back in familiar territory at the top of the leaderboard after an opening 68, four under par, in the inaugural MDIS & Partners Festival of Golf at Mill Ride, Ascot today.
Horton, Seniors Tour number one for the past three years, bounced back from a disappointing week in Ireland to fire six birdies in blustery conditions, dropping only two shots to share the first round lead with American David Oakley.
The pair lead by one from Australia's Terry Gale while three shots further back is the former Ryder Cup captain Barnard Gallacher, playing his first event in England as a senior. Gallacher had moved to within two shots of the lead but a sliced tee shot on the last was lost in the trees and cost him a double bogey.
"It was a disappointing way to finish the round," said the Scot. "I didn't start very well and missed a few chances but got back into it until the I lost the ball."
Horton, chasing his second victory in three starts this year, birdied the first two holes before a bogey temporarily halted his charge on the 12th, his third. Birdies at the 14th, 17th, first and second took him into the outright lead but a poor second shot on the 7th found the bunker and cost another shot.
"I hit a lot of good shots in this wind," he said. "It's good to be back in contention - back into fortunately familiar territory."
Oakley, runner up in the 1996 Senior British Open at Royal Portrush, picked up four birdies on his way to a flawless 68. The former furniture store manager nicknamed "The Oak" said: "I've come close before but yet to win over here. But my game is in pretty good shape so I'm looking to go one better."
As the wind picked up during the afternoon few of the later starters threatened the lead with Canadian Doug Robb, the winner the Seniors Tour Qualifying School, the only player the break par.
for first round scores.