Scotland’s Norman Wood heads a cosmopolitan leaderboard after a fine five under par 67 in the first round of the Beko Classic at the Gloria Golf Resort in Antalya, Turkey.
Wood, the head professional at Royal Guernsey GC, who is still chasing his first win after three years on the European Seniors Tour, hit 16 greens in regulation in a round which included six birdies and a solitary bogey at the 519-yard par-5 7th.
He ended the round a single shot ahead of Sweden’s Tomas Persson and two shots in front of England’s Brian Waites, Welshman Brian Huggett, American Pat Kaylor and Brazilian, Priscillo Dinez, whose 69 was compiled with the help of a hole-in-one on the 156-yard 17th hole.
“It was a solid round of golf,” said Wood. “I thought I hit the ball well at last month’s Westmorland Barbados Open but the difference here was that I holed some good putts, too.”
The Scot quit the European Tour in the late 1970s because of putting problems but had no such difficulties here in a round in which he holed four putts of 20 feet or more.
“It was great to get some in particularly because, in the past, that has always been my biggest problem.”
The opening round turned out to be a productive affair for several qualifiers at this year’s European Seniors Tour Qualifying School, held here at the Gloria and Nobilis courses in December, with no less than seven of the first 17 places going to School graduates.
That group was headed by second-placed Persson, who finished 38th at the School, and also included Dinez and Kaylor, who qualified in 5th and 23rd place respectively. Further down, three other qualifiers, namely England’s Nick Job, Australia’s John Tolhurst and Japan’s Sejii Ebihara, also made their mark tieing on 70 alongside Australians, Ross Mertherill and Terry Gale, Americans, David Oakley and Alan Tapie, and Spaniard Jose Cabo.
David Good, 5th at the School, was tied on 71 alongside a group comprising Peter Townsend, Roger Fidler, Tim Price and Antonio Garrido.
Futher down the list, Tommy Horton, Europe’s No. 1 for the last four seasons, and a man who is now within £28,000 of breaking the £1 million career earnings barrier in Europe posted a 74 which included a back nine of 40.
Later, a disappointed Horton said: “It was just one of those days. I clipped at tree on the 11th and did the same at the 12th and both cost me shots.”
Michael King, the former Walker and Ryder Cup star making his debut on the European Seniors Tour, carded a three over par 75.