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Friday, 10 August 2001
America's David Oakley ended his round in spectacular fashion when he holed a 125-yard 9-iron for an eagle two on the 360-yard 18th to open a two shot lead after the first round of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open at Bad Ragaz GC in Switzerland.

Oakley's wonder shot meant that he recorded a seven under par 63 which gave him a two shot advantage over England's John Morgan, Ireland's Liam Higgins and Australia's David Good.

It also brought back memories of the extraordinary finale to last week's De Vere Hotels Seniors Classic at the De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland where Australia's Noel Ratcliffe eagled the par-five 16th and then holed a wedge for an eagle two on the 415-yard par-four 18th to finish one shot ahead of America's Jerry Bruner and New Zealand's Simon Owen.

Oakley, 56, the winner of the 1999 MDIS & Partners Festival of Golf and the 2000 De Vere Hotels Seniors Classic, went to the turn in two under par 33 but then romped home in a five under par 30 that included birdies at the 12th, the 14th and the 16th as well as his eagle on the last.

"That is the best round of golf I have played for a long time," said the former furniture store manager who now lives in Orlando, Florida.

"I have felt that I have been playing well for the last few weeks and today I got the breaks I hadn't been getting before."

"That shot at the last went straight in without bouncing," he added. "I made a bit of a mess of the hole but I can't say I am too concerned about that."

Heading into the second round, Oakley's nearest challengers are Morgan, Good and Higgins who all recorded their five under par 65s, albeit in rather different fashions.

Morgan and Good both put their scores down to good performances on greens saturated by torrential overnight rain but for Higgins it was a rather different story because he holed nothing longer than a five-foot putt all the way round and even conspired to miss a four-inch tap-in for a birdie on the 486-yard par-5 16th.

"That was a pretty stupid thing to do," said the popular Irishman from Waterville.

"I knocked my first putt up to about four inches, went to tap it in but stubbed the ground instead and the result was that the ball didn't even reach the hole.

"I felt a bit daft at the time but, to be honest, I hit the ball so close all day, I don't think I can complain too much."

Morgan recorded six birdies during his round with his best spell coming when he carded three successive birdie threes from the sixth but he also had a mishap on the 16th where he lipped out for an eagle three and then missed the resultant two-foot return.

"That could definitely be described as one that got away but overall I was pleased with my performance and especially with my putting," said Morgan, who has returned to the European Seniors Tour after several seasons spent competing on the PGA Senior Tour in the States.

"All season I have been struggling with my alignment and my putting stroke but both were much better this morning and I holed a lot of good putts."

Good also put his 65 down to his performance on the greens. He is someone else who has been struggling with his putter for much of the season but started to see an improvement when he finished with three straight birdies over the last three holes at last week's De Vere Hotels Seniors Classic.

"I've been working on getting some more weight on my left hand side during my putting stroke because that helps me to get my broomhandle putt through the ball much better than I was before," said the Australian.

"I had five birdies out there and with a bit of luck I could have had four or five others because I hit a lot of good putts that only just missed the cup."

On a day of exceptional scoring, no less than 46 competitors in the 90-man field finished their rounds at par or better. Just behind Higgins, Morgan and Good, America's Bob Lendzion, Italy's Silvano Locatelli and Australia's Geoff Parslow shared fifth pace on 66, with England's Steve Wild, Scotland's Bernard Gallacher, America's John Grace and New Zealand's Barry Vivian all tieing for eighth place on 67.

Ireland's Joe McDermott leads the race for the concurrent £500 Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor to have reached the age of 60. McDermott, the 1998 AIB Irish Seniors Open champion, returned a two under par 68 to share 12th place with a huge group of golfers that also included England's Denis Durnian, America's Jeff Van Wagenen, Brazil's Priscillo Diniz and New Zealand's Simon Owen.

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