England’s Martin Poxon carded a five under par 67 to move into a one shot lead after the first round of the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course near Kelso.
The 50 year old rookie, who spent the early part of the year working as a flower seller at Flower World in Sheffield, carded a total of seven birdies to go into the second round one shot in front of South Africa’s John Mashego and two ahead of Bob Cameron, Nick Job, Brian Jones, Jean Pierre Sallat and Kevin Spurgeon.
It was also a good day for defending champion, Bill Longmuir, who dropped a shot at the 396 yard par four second but then recovered to post a two under par 70 to share eighth place alongside Guiseppi Cali, Bob Larratt and DJ Russell.
However, the first round proved to be something of a disappointment for tournament favourite, Sam Torrance, who three-putted the last from 16 feet to go into the second round well down the field on one over par 73.
Poxon joined the Seniors Tour in June but before that was selling flowers on a friend’s market stall in Sheffield.
“It’s a bit like going from the sublime to the ridiculous,” said the Yorkshireman who played on the European Tour throughout the 1980s. “I didn’t get a chance to play all that much golf in the lead up to my 50th birthday so that probably explains why I’m having such a great time now that I’m out here.
“My best position to date came when I finished seventh on my first start in Ireland but I’d like to think I can do better here if I can keep playing like I did today.”
“It’s very encouraging,” he added. “I hit a lot of good shots and hardly made any mistakes at all.”
Mashego, 54, from White River, South Africa, also
recovered from a bad start to post a 68 that left him alone in second place.
He dropped shots at both the first and the second and was still one over par until he hit a purple patch in which he birdied the 11th, birdied the 12th, eagled the 14th and birdied the 15th.
“I thought I was going to have one of those days when I dropped shots a both the first two holes but I played some great golf after that and could even have been better if I took all the chances I had.
“The shot at the 14th was really spectacular. I hit a 6 iron from 214 yards and for a while I thought it was going into the hole. It ended up about 12 inches away which is the sort of eagle putt I like.”
Longmuir has endured a frustrating season during which he has posted just three top ten finishes in 14 starts but memories of last year’s victory brought out the best in him. He went out in one over par 37 but raced home in 33 to give himself an excellent chance of becoming the first man to defend the title.
“I’ve had a bit of rough time this season,” lamented the Essex-based Scot. “I’ve had a lung infection and I haven’t been playing nearly as well as I would have liked.
“I’ve been hitting the ball solid but the scoring has just not been there. Last week, for example, I carded a 67 in the last round of the Travis Perkins Senior Masters but it really should have been a 63 or a 64.
“Today was a lot better though,” he added. “Let’s hope it is the start of better things to come.”
The shot of the day came from England’s Robin Mann who used a 5-iron to hole-in-one at the 183 yard par three 13th hole. He won 183 bottles of Hardys wine for the achievement – the same number as the length of the hole.
Torrance, 52, who can get to within £20,000 of absent Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader, Carl Mason, if he wins the £22,500 first prize this week enjoyed no such good fortune.
“I felt as if I played quite well but didn’t get much out the round,” said the Scot who has won twice this season at the Irvine Whitlock Seniors Classic in Jersey and the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at Carden Park.
“I’ve got a bit to do but a lot can happen over the weekend.”
Mason, the current Seniors Tour No. 1, withdrew prior to the start of the first round still suffering from the same back problem that also forced him out of last week’s Travis Perkins event at Wentworth.
“I hit some shots this morning but knew straight away that it wasn’t right,” said Mason, winner of this year’s De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic and Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open.
“It’s a shame because I like the course and was looking forward to playing.”
It was also a bad day for Sir Guy David Innes Ker, the tenth Duke of Roxburghe and the host for this week’s tournament, also endured a bad day.
The four-handicap Duke carded a disappointing fourteen over par 86 but he did eagle the 571 yard par five 14th where he hit a six iron to ten feet and holed out for a dramatic three.
“It was a fantastic experience but I suppose what this shows is that playing competitively is a lot harder than messing around with your pals,” he said.
“I couldn’t get settled at the start and I made a few silly mistakes that cost me a lot,” he added. “But I can
honestly say I enjoyed it immensely and am looking forward to doing better tomorrow.”