Northern Ireland’s David Jones overcame a treacherous course and temperatures well into the 90s when he opened with a six under par 66 during the first round of the Temes Seniors Open at Glyfada G.C. in Athens.
That gave Jones, 54, from Bangor, a share of the course record and he goes into the second round two shots ahead of Australia’s John Tolhurst and three strokes in front of Canada’s Glenn MacDonald, Americans David Oakley and Alan Tapie, and another Northern Irelander, Eddie Polland.
Welshman, Craig Defoy, and England’s Maurice Bembridge both returned 70s.
Jones, winner of last year’s Jersey Seniors Open, his only victory to date on the European Seniors Tour, had four birdies and an eagle on his card but he also owed at least some of his advantage to a slice of outrageous fortune on the 421-yard closing hole.
The Northern Irelander, now a respected golf course designer, hit his tee shot into the fairway but then pulled his second well left off the green into a dreadful lie that seemed to leave him with little chance of getting to within 20 feet of the hole. However, from there, fate lent a hand. Having thinned his chip, his ball seemed destined to career over the other side of the green until it hit the flagstick and came to rest little more than 18 inches from the hole.
“That just about summed up the round,” he said “I didn’t hit the ball all that well but I got my share of the breaks and that’s what you need to do well out here.
“I’m delighted,” he added. “I did ride my luck at times today but I also hit some good iron shots and that’s important on a course as tight as this.”
For much of the round, MacDonald seemed to be the biggest threat to Jones. The 54-year-old from Vancouver, an infrequent competitor on this season’s Seniors circuit, got it to five under par after 12 holes and was still on that total before a double bogey on the last dropped him back into the pack.
“I wasn’t all that surprised,” he said. “Considering the way I drove the ball, I could have been 89 instead of 69 so I suppose I have to be pleased with what I have got.”
On a day in which the temperature edged up well into the 90s, a total of 29 golfers matched or bettered the Glyfada course’s tough par of 72.
A total of 12 golfers shared ninth place on 71, namely local man Harry Spaniotis, four Americans, Kurt Cox, Fritz Gambetta, Michael Baty and Ray Carassco, Australia’s Noel Ratcliffe, South Africa’s David Burd, Northern Ireland’s Gordon Parkhill, Scotand’s Norman Wood, Spain’s Javier Viladomiu and Japan’s Shoichi Sato and Toshiaki Namiki.
David Huish, one of only two double winners on this season’s circuit was among the nine-strong group on 72, with his compatriot, Bernard Gallacher and last week’s winner Jeff Van Wagenen among those sharing 30th place on 73.