The crowds flocked into Woburn hoping to witness something special from Sam Torrance on the opening day of the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters. He obliged with a flurry of birdies and seemed set to share the lead, but a last hole bogey for a 69, three under par, leaves the Scot two strokes behind the surprise leaders Keith Ashdown and John Mashego.
Torrance, making his seniors debut in England, showed little hint of the fireworks to come as he reached the turn of the Duke's Course in level par 35. Birdies at the tenth and 12th and a bogey-five at the 13th put him in red figures, then the fun started.
He took two putts at the long 14th to pick up another shot, then holed birdie putts from six feet at the 15th and from eight feet at the16th to race to four under.
A further chance was on offer at the par four 17th but he missed from ten feet, then at the last his drive finished in a divot and from there he missed the green left and failed to get up-and-down, missing from ten feet.
"It was a pity about the last. I played well but putted terribly," he admitted as he headed off to the practice putting green.
Mashego, out first at 9am, even surprised himself with his 67, his best return of the year. "I'm surprised with the score but not with the way I'm playing," he said. "I keep having bad first rounds and then I play well in the second and third. When I started I was concentrating hard on finishing around level par. I didn't think there was a 67 around the corner.
"My problem is always putting. Today I holed all the long ones and missed a lot of birdie chances from five to seven feet. The greens are fine, it's just me," added the 52 year old from Johannesburg.
Ashdown, Sussex born but a teaching pro on the Algarve in Portugal for the past 12 years, has only played six events after being laid up with illness at the start of the season. But the 54 year old made up for it with seven birdies to catch Mashego then admitted: "I missed five more good chances from around six feet so it felt as if I should have shot 63."
The pair are a shot ahead of Kent's Bob Cameron, who went round without dropping a shot, while running in four birdies. "I'm still not swinging it great but I managed to hang on," he said.
"I'm still lacking confidence but I'm still trying to bed in a new set of clubs and that's taking time."
Torrance is joint fourth alongside England's Ian Mosey, who also threatened the lead until he double-bogeyed the 16th, Guiseppe Cali from Italy and Argentina's Horacio Carbonetti.
Order of Merit leader Carl Mason is seven shots off the pace after a 74, as did Christy O'Connor Jnr, who fell foul of the trees on the last to run up a double-bogey six. But Bill Longmuir, second on the money list, went round in 70.