Scotland’s Bernard Gallacher defied atrocious weather conditions to take a one shot lead into the second round of the TotalFina Elf Seniors Open over the Marly course at Golf de Joyenal near Paris.
Gallacher, 51, the former Ryder Cup Captain from the Wentworth Club in Surrey, recorded six birdies in an opening five under par 67 to finish one shot ahead of England’s Barry Sandry and Ireland’s Denis O’Sullivan.
Welshman, Craig Defoy and England’s Nick Job finished two shots off the pace after opening 69s while Australia’s David Good, Japan’s Seiji Ebihara, America’s Alan Tapie and England’s Peter Townsend all recorded 70s.
“That’s the best I have played for ages,” a delighted Gallacher said at the end of his round. “I’ve been practising hard all season but, until today, I just couldn’t get things going.
“Today, though, was a whole lot better. I drove well, hit a lot of irons close and also putted nicely. It makes a lovely change.”
Sandry held the clubhouse lead for most of the day after going out in the worst of the weather in the morning.
“I got off to a dream start when I birdied three of the first holes and after that it was just a question of hanging on,” said the Englishman, who used to coach European Tour star David Howell.
“I played pretty well when I finished tied for eighth at last week’s Coca Cola Kaiser Karl European Trophy in Germany and seem to have managed to bring that good form with me.”
O’Sullivan, who finished seventh in Germany, also perpetuated his rich vein of form going out in level par 36 but coming home in 32 after birdies at the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th.
“It was a good round,” the genial Irishman said, “but, to be honest, it should have been better. On the last, the par-5, I just had a 5-iron into the green but couldn’t get a birdie. That’s a bit disappointing but, overall, I don’t suppose I can complain.”
Defoy and Job compiled their 69s in a markedly different manner. The Welshman, who is attached to the Coombe Hill Club in Surrey, and who won twice on the European Tour, at the 1968 Gor-Ray Under-24s Championship and the 1969 Lord Derby’s Under-23s Championship went out in four under par 32 but came back in one over par 37.
In contrast, Job, the pro at Richmond GC, went out in 34 but had dropped to level par until he birdied the 197-yard par-3 17th hole and then eagled the 468-yard par-5 18th hole with a drive, a 3-iron and a 6-foot putt.
That’s a great way to tidy up any card,” he said. “I’ve got to be pleased with that. Anything below or around par is a good score out there today.”
On a day which started with a 90 minute delay, due to torrential rain, a total of 11 golfers beat par and another eight matched it.
Among the latter were Tommy Horton, winner of this season’s Royal Westmorland Barbados Open, Jersey Open winner Neil Coles, veteran Brian Waites and Denis Durnian, who made his European Seniors Tour debut when finishing tied for second at last week’s Coca-Cola Kaiser Karl European Trophy in Germany.
This week’s debutant, Ireland’s Paddy McGuirk, was not so fortunate, recording an 6-over par 80.