Australia’s Richard Beer defied a bad cold and a nagging headache to open a two shot lead after the first round of the European Seniors Tour Qualifying School at the PGA Golf de Catalunya course in northern Spain.
Beer, the former club pro at Kareela GC in Sydney, fired a flawless four under par 68 to go into the second round two strokes in front of Welshman, David Vaughan, and American, Jay Dolan, but then said he had almost pulled out prior to the start of his round.
“I felt terrible this morning,” the Australian said moments after hitting a 4-iron to six inches on the 395-yard 18th hole to record his four birdie of the day. “If this had been a normal tournament I think I would have pulled out this morning and gone straight back to bed but I have come a long way and so I thought I would give it a go.
“I’d like to think that I could play this well again tomorrow but I hope that I am feeling better because I’m not sure I can go through that again,” he added.
Vaughan, 52, from Vale of Langollen headed the British challenge after a 70 in which he hit all 18 greens in regulation and dropped just one shot when he took three putts on the 483-yard par-5 7th hole.
“That’s as good a round as I’ve had for a while,” said the Welshman who finished in 103rd place on the 2000 European Seniors Tour Order of Merit and then got into the final Qualifying School with just one shot to spare after recording rounds of 74 and 82 at the Prequalifying tournament at PGA de Catalyuna.
Vaughan and Dolan were among a number of Seniors Tour regulars to produce good showings on a tough course where Brian Davies won the Peugeot Spanish Open earlier this season and where Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn won the Sarazen World Open in 1999.
Just below them Ireland’s Ray Kane, Northern Ireland’s Kenny Stevenson, Australia’s Randall Vines, Scotland’s Gordon Macdonald and Canada’s Glenn Macdonald all scored one under par 71s with a further six golfers all finishing on level par 72.
However, it wasn’t such a good day for former Ryder Cup golfer, John Garner, the winner of 1998 Seniors Tournament of Champions, who posted a 77 to finish in a tie for 40th place.
Northern Ireland’s Paul Leonard, the only other competitor in the field to have a Seniors Tour title to his name, returned a three over par 75.