England’s David J Russell conjured a brilliant opening round of nine under par 63 to take the lead at the Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Seniors Open and credited his refreshing new attitude to playing the game he loves for his excellent start to this, the European Seniors Tour’s first ever trip Egypt.
The 50 year old – twice a European Tour champion – put together a polished first round performance at the 6586 yard par 72 Jolie Ville Golf and Resort, going to the turn in four under 32 before coming home in 31 to take a one shot lead from the USA’s John Benda.
Russell revealed that his self inspired change of attitude came last week while he was playing in a Callaway sponsored event, which he won, in Scotland last week, and he now believes he can win his first Seniors Tour event after a disappointing debut season on the circuit in 2004.
“That’s definitely the best round of my Seniors career,” said Russell. “I was pretty disappointing all season last year. It all fitted into place today really, which, I suppose is a continuation from last week when I played a Callaway event at Panmure Golf Club in Scotland which I won.
“I’m the sort of golfer that thinks ‘it doesn’t matter, just enjoy it’, but then last week I gave myself a bit of a talking to and realised that it does matter. I basically gave myself a bit of a kick up the backside which I needed and managed to win last week and I have taken that into this tournament which is very pleasing.
“I am playing as well as I have for some time. Last year was my first year on the Seniors Tour and it was just a massive disappointment. I finished 24th in the Order of Merit which wasn’t good enough. I had a lot on last year and I was involved in a lot of course building up at Archerfield in Scotland but I used that as an excuse, and, at the end of the day, I am the only excuse.
“The most annoying thing is that I know that I still play the game really nicely and I know that I can win – I just have to prove it to myself, which hopefully I can do over the next two days here by winning my first Seniors Tour event.”
Benda is also looking for a first Seniors Tour win, and he will certainly give Russell a run for his money if he can emulate his eight under par 64 over the next two days at the Joilie Ville Golf and Resort. The American put together a flawless opening round that consisted of eight birdies and ten pars to lie just one shot off the blistering pace set by Russell.
While Benda was posting a bogey free first round score, his countryman, Bob Lendzion, moved into third place on seven under par with a more unconventional 65 that included a double bogey six on the par four eighth hole. He countered that one bad score with two eagle threes at the par five sixth and 18th, as well as adding five birdies to his card to hoist himself into the upper echelons of the Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Seniors Open leaderboard.
There is a three shot gap between Lendzion and the next best challengers – a five strong group of players on four under par, with a further eight players on three under.