Ireland’s Arnold O’Connor demonstrated the advantage of tournament experience with a masterly four under par 68 to lead after the first round of the European Seniors Tour Qualifying School in Antalya on the Turkish Riviera.
The former Irish Match Play champion from Dublin produced a flawless card glowing with a run around the turn of four straight birdies at the tight tree lined Gloria Resort course. It opened up a two shot advantage in his quest for a top ten finish and fill playing qualification next year.
O’Connor, a professional at the Elm Green Club, finished 55th in the Seniors Tour Order of Merit in this his fourth year as a senior and is seeking an improved playing category.
He said: “My driver was my best club today. I kept it pretty straight between the trees out there and holed some useful putts. I would have settled for level par before I started. This 68 is a real bonus.”
Meanwhile, despite a warm sun and calm conditions, it was a struggle for most of the 153 starters with only 12 players breaking par at both the Gloria and Nobilis courses.
It was a sad start for David Carroll, the 60 year old from Wiltshire who is blind in his right eye. He ran up an 86 in Gloria to virtually destroy his chances of starting a belated tournament career. “I found too many trees,” he said.
England’s Michal Steadman and Dan Rossengren from Canada share the lead at Nobilis with two under par 70’s.