America's David Oakley continued his recent rich vein of form when he opened with a seven under par 65 to claim a two shot lead at the end of the first round of the Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe, near Kelso.
Oakley, 56, a former furniture store manager from Orlando, Florida, who won his third European Seniors Tour title at the Energis Senior Masters at Wentworth a fortnight ago, fired seven birdies and 11 pars go into the second round two shots in front of Australian European Tour veteran, Rodger Davis, and three ahead of an international quartet comprising England's David Creamer, Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan, Canada's John Irwin and Japan's Seiji Ebihara.
The American had to get up and down from ten yards short of the putting surface on the first hole but then did not miss another green on a treacherous Roxburghe course which measures 6,865 yards or almost 300 yards more than is the norm on the European Seniors Tour.
"To be honest, I don't think I hit the ball as well as I did at Wentworth, but I putted real good out there," said the American.
"The key to the round was the 15-footer I holed for a par on the first hole. That seemed to get me going because after that I didn't really miss a thing."
His nearest challenger, Davis, who turned 50 in May, and since then has divided his time between the Seniors Tours in Europe and the States, showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with on the Seniors circuit when he posted a five under par 67 that helped him to forget a disappointing 17th place finish on his European Seniors Tour debut at Wentworth.
"It was a bit disappointing but I know I am going to have to play very well to win on this Tour," admitted Davis, a veteran of seven wins on the European Tour, including the 1986 Whyte & Mackay PGA Championship and the 1991 Volvo Masters.
"I suspect the standard of golf on the European Seniors Tour is about three times stronger than it was about five years ago and it's going to get even tougher to do well once the likes of Des Smyth and Eamon Darcy turn 50 in a couple of years time."
Russell Weir, who finished the first round as the leading Scot, tied in 15th place on two under par 70, was another competitor to raise the same theme.
Weir, from Cowal, who won the Tartan Tour Order of Merit five times prior to turning 50 in June, has made four appearances on this season's Seniors circuit, claiming a share of 15th place in his first start at the Senior British Open at Royal Co.Down, but also missing the cut in both of his last two starts at Wentworth and the subsequent Legends in Golf tournament at Crayestein GC in Holland.
"Bloody tough," was how he described life on the Seniors Tour.
"We've been playing at it on the Tartan Tour. It has been a bit of a jolly, really," he said.
"These guys here are hardened competitors. They work very hard at their games. I am going to have to buckle down if I am going to compete."
As if to illustrate that fact, a total of 41 competitors finished the first round at par or better. Behind the leaders, England's John Morgan, Peter Dawson and Maurice Bembridge, America's Hank Woodrome and Tommy Price, Ireland's Liam Higgins and Australia's Ian Stanley and Terry Gale all finished on 69 and Weir was joined on 70 by Denis Durnian, Pat Kaylor, Jeff Van Wagenen, Craig Defoy, Alan Tapie, Bill Hardwick and Ian Mosey.
Mosey, 50, from Keighley, Yorkshire, the winner of the 1984 Monte Carlo Open on the European Tour, was making his Seniors Tour debut after turning 50 on Wednesday.
"It's good to get here," said the man who has been warming up for his new life by competing on the MasterCard Tour and in other PGA events.
"I was very nervous at the start but settled down once I got a couple of birdies at the seventh and the ninth. I'm pleased with a 70 although I'm also a bit surprised that I am not a little closer to the lead."