Sam Torrance was a disappointed man after struggling a one over par 73, six shots behind leader, Nick Job, on his Seniors Tour debut at the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe Golf Club near Kelso.
The former Ryder Cup captain dropped a shot when he hit his tee shot under a tree at the 385 yard par four first. He shed two more when he hit a five iron into the water the guards the front of the 177 yard par three fourth but then bounced back with birdies on the fifth, seventh and eighth before carding another bogey on the treacherous 159 yard par three 15th.
Torrance, a winner of 21 European Tour titles, goes into the second round a distant six shots behind leader, Nick Job, whose five under par 67 included a glorious eagle on the 526 yard par five 11th where he hit a majestic 243-yard 3-wood second shot to within 10 feet of the hole.
Job finished the opening round one shot ahead of Scotland's Craig Maltman, England's Carl Mason and New Zealand's Barry Vivian with Australia's Terry Gale, America's Bob Lendzion, Japan's Dragon Taki and Scotland's Russell Weir all sharing fifth place on three under par 69.
Another Scot, Bill Longmuir, the winner of the recent Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open and De Vere PGA Seniors Championship, carded a two under par 70 to share ninth place with Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge and Welshman, Geoff Tickell.
"I have to admit this is not what I had in mind when I was preparing for my first start on the Seniors Tour," said Torrance, who turned 50 last Sunday.
"The strong wind made it very demanding but that's no excuse. I got off to a bad start when I dropped shots at the first and the fourth and never really recovered after that.
"It's all a bit disappointing but at least I will live to fight another day," he added. "Fortunately, it is not pay day until Sunday so I've got a bit of time to recover. That's certainly what I will be planning to do."
Job's round started with a fine birdie on the first. He also birdied the fifth, sixth and eighth before three-putting the 403 yard ninth to go out in three under par 33. Coming home, the club professional at Richmond Golf Club in London eagled the ninth and birdied the 183 yard 13th. He dropped shots at both the 394 yard 16th and the 398 yard 17th but then sealed a fine round with a 12-foot putt for a birdie on the 422 yard closing hole.
"I played very nicely," said Job, who has won twice on the Seniors Tour at the 2000 TotalFina Elf Seniors Open and the 2001 Lawrence Batley Seniors.
"It was a tough day. The wind made it very tricky but I drove well and putted solidly, too. I have played a few good rounds recently but not quite managed to finish the job. This time, I'm rather hoping that I can lead from beginning to end."
Mason has only been a Seniors Tour member since the end of June but already he heads the Tour’s Order of Merit, earning 243,028 euro after winning the Mobile Cup and finishing second behind America’s Tom Watson at the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard.
The Englishman started his round by dropping a shot at the first and also shed two more at the 11th where he hit his second shot through the green. However, birdies at the second, third fourth, fifth, 11th , 14th and 17th more than made amends.
“I got off to a terrible start with a three-putt at the first but it was pretty good after that,” he said. “I played nicely. I drove well in what were difficult conditions and putted pretty well, too.
“The only real problem I had was on the 12th where I punched a five iron through the back of the green. It was the one place I shouldn’t have gone. I was stuffed, basically. I had a dreadful lie on the downslope. I wasn’t sure whether to play a flop shot or hit a belly wedge. In the end, I decided to flop it but only managed to duff it three or four yards. After that, I went to the belly wedge. I played a nice shot down to about four feet but couldn’t quite make the putt.
Maltman, the owner of the Eyemouth service station, near Berwick, is also a new recruit to the Seniors Tour. He arrived in Kelso having made just two previous starts, at the Senior British Open and the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship, but belied his inexperience with a fine round in which he carded four birdies and did not drop a single shot.
The Scot, a former winner of both the Zambian and Kenyan Opens, produced his first birdie when he hit a sand wedge to 15 feet on the 396 yard second. He also birdied the third, the fifth and the 10th, finishing his round with eight successive par figures.
Initially, Maltman had no plans to become a member of the Seniors Tour but he has now changed his mind.
“I have decided that I am going to go to the Qualifying School this winter,” he said. “To begin with, I wasn’t going to because I didn’t fancy all the travel. But then I looked at the schedule and realised how many tournaments there are in Britain so I have changed my mind and decided to give it a go.”
Even if he qualifies, the Scot will not see much of Vivian. The New Zealander plans to compete next week, at the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters, before returning home to concentrate on a new property venture.
“Enough is enough,” said Vivian after his flawless 68. “I’ve enjoyed the Seniors Tour but the time has come to move on a try something else.”
Altogether, there were four Scots, Maltman, Weir, Longmuir and John Chillas among the 23 competitors who broke par in the opening round. However, it was a different story for 1998 champion, David Huish, the only Scot to have won his national Seniors title. Huish, the Director of Golf at North Berwick, carded an eight over par 80 to prop up the field.