Friday, 28 May 2004
Ireland’s Des Smyth picked up where he left off in the US Senior PGA Championship by challenging for honours in this year’s event at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

Smyth, who led after three rounds last year before finishing joint fifth, reached two under after 17 holes before lightning stopped play on the opening day of the first Major of the season in the senior game.

Play was to start again early on Friday morning but heavy overnight rain has caused further delays. Completion of the first round is scheduled to begin at 2.30 pm Eastern Time (7.30 pm GMT).

Americans Hale Irwin, a three-time winner of the Championship, and Tom Watson, who has won the title once, lead the event after firing four under par 67s.US Champions Tour Money List leader Gil Morgan is a stroke behind with three holes left to play.

A total of 72 players have yet to complete their opening round.

Smyth led the way for members of the European Seniors Tour – a total of 17 are playing – by making five birdies and three bogeys. He started his round on the back nine by opening his account with a birdie on the 10th. He toured the nine in two under and later reached three under with birdies on the fifth and sixth before dropping a shot on his final hole of the day, the eighth.

Other Senior Tour members to fare well were Irishman Mark McNulty who made it into the clubhouse with a 70 and South African Gavan Levenson, who is one under with one hole to play. Both players are making their debuts in the Championship, which is now in its 65th year.

Two other debutants, Mark James from England and Scotland’s Sam Torrance, were on the course when lightning struck on Thursday. James lay at one over after 14 holes while Torrance was four over after 15.

Ireland’s Eamonn Darcy was able to finish his round and shot a 73 while Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader Terry Gale from Australia and England’s Bob Cameron carded 75s.

England’s Carl Mason, last year’s Seniors Tour number one, came in with a 77 along with Scotland’s Bill Longmuir.

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