Dragon Taki took the first step towards becoming the second successive Japanese winner on the European Seniors Tour when he opened with a five under par 67 to take a share of the lead heading into the second round of the Legends in Golf tournament at the Flanders Nippon GC near Hasselt in Belgium.
The Japanese rookie was one of the first golfers to congratulate compatriot, Seiji Ebihara, when he defended his AIB Irish Seniors Open title at Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, a couple of weeks ago and he produced some fireworks of his own in Belgium, storming home in five under par 31 to grab a share of the first round lead alongside America's Hank Woodrome.
Taki and Woodrome go into the second round one shot ahead of America's Gary Wintz and two in front of Northern Ireland's David Jones, America's TR Jones, Canada's Bill Hardwick and Englishmen, David Creamer and Martin Foster.
England's Neil Coles proved that age is no barrier to golfing success when he opened with a two under par 70 that put him in a share of ninth place alongside Scottish rookie, Martin Gray, Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan, Wales's America's Ray Carrasco and Spanish duo, Manuel Velasco and Antonio Garrido.
The 67 year old former Ryder Cup star dropped two shots over his opening eleven holes but more than made amends with four birdies on the 12th, 13th 16th and 17th to go into the second round with a realistic chance of recording his first Seniors Tour victory since the 2000 Microlease Jersey Seniors Open at La Moye.
Taki is renowned as one of the biggest hitters on the Japanese Tour. He has won the JPGA Long Driving Championship on four separate occasions but it was his accuracy around the tight and tree-lined Flanders Nippon course that proved to be his biggest weapon. The Japanese golfer cruised to the turn in level par 36 but then fired three consecutive birdies from the 10th to move to thre under par. He made further advances at 166 yard par three 16th and the 384 yard par four 18th to grab a share of the lead alongside Woodrome in what was just his second start on the Seniors Tour.
In contrast, Woodrome, a former club pro from Fullerton, California, made his score on the longer opening nine. He raced to the turn in four under par 32 after birdies on the fourth, the fifth, the seventh and the ninth and then added another two more on the 11th and the 14th before dropping his only shot of the day on the 513 yard par five 17th.
"I guess I got a bit aggressive out there on the 17th," said the amicable American. "I thought I could hit a three wood 240 yards onto the front of the green but I came up a fraction short and it fell into the hazard.
"I suppose I gambled a little too much but it would be wrong to say that I'm disappointed. I hit a lot of quality shots out there so I am confident about going into tomorrow.”
Victor Garcia, father of Sergio, made his first appearance on this season’s Seniors Tour. He recorded a level par 72 to go into the second round in a tie for 22nd place.