Robbie Stewart enjoyed a dream start to his career on the European Seniors Tour when he carded a four under par 68 to move into a one shot lead after the first round of the Wallonia Open at Pierpont Golf Club in Belgium.
The South African turned 50 on Tuesday and he celebrated the anniversary in style with a flawless opening round in which he recorded 14 pars and four birdies.
He goes into the second round one shot in front of America's Ray Carrasco, Chile's Guillermo Encina, England's John Morgan and another rookie, Italian Adriano Mori, who was also making his Seniors Tour debut on what was his 50th birthday.
David Creamer, Horacio Carbonetti, John Grace, John Chillas, Denis Durnian, David Oakley and Geoff Tickell all shared sixth place on two under par 70.
Stewart finished second behind Carbonetti at last year's Seniors Tour Qualifying School in Portugal and he continued to impress on his first Tour start when he opened up with three birdies over the first six holes. The former steel broker from Johannesburg then birdied the treacherous 505 yard par five 11th before completing the round with seven consecutive pars.
"That's a great way to start my career on the Seniors Tour," confirmed the South African. "I have only played in three tournaments since the Qualifying School last November so I thought I would be a little bit rusty. But I hit the ball nicely. It's a lot better than I could have hoped for."
Mori celebrated his 50th birthday by opening up with birdies on the 301 yard par four first and the 492 yard par five second before dropping his only shot of the day on the 457 yard par four seventh. He bounced back with a three on the 417 yard par four 10th and then confirmed his share of second place with another birdie on the 450 yard par four 18th hole.
Morgan is almost ten years older than both Mori and Stewart but he showed that he is far from past his best with a fine round in which he went out in one under par 35 and then came home in 34 with birdies at the 361 yard par four 16th and the 518 yard par five 18th.
"I suppose you could say I hit the ball well but on the wrong line," said the Englishman who had to pull out of last week's AIB Irish Seniors Open suffering from a wrist injury. " I found a fair bit of trouble but I retrieved it with some good putting.
"That's what you've got to do when you're up against all these 50 year old youngsters, he added."
A total of 29 competitors broke par on a day in which the wind gusted up to 20 miles per hour.
Tony Allen, Bob Cameron, Neville Clarke, Priscillo Diniz, Keith MacDonald, Denis O’Sullivan, Eddie Polland, Noel Ratcliffe, Steve Stull, Dragon Taki, Manuel Vellasco, Gary Wintz and Hank Woodrome all carded 71s when Joey Combs, Bob Lendzion, Ruseel Weir and Wayne Wright posted 72s.