Stewart Ginn bounced back from what he called his “final round debacle” at Wentworth Club by firing a five under par 65 to share the lead with John Bland at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland.
The Australian carded five birdies and 13 pars at Bad Ragaz Golf Club in the Alps, to join South African Bland at the top of the first round leaderboard.
England’s Carl Mason, who finished strongly with three consecutive birdies, and Japan’s Katsuyoshi Tomori share third place with four under par 66s.
For Ginn, a Senior Major winner on the US Champions Tour, a round of 65 represented a fine response following the disappointment of last weekend’s events at the Wentworth Senior Masters.
Having started the final round with a two stroke lead, Ginn slumped to a 78 to finish in a share of 11th place and six shots behind the winner, Eduardo Romero.
“That debacle sent me back to the drawing board and I realised that I am pushing too hard. I badly want to win on the European Seniors Tour and I have been my own worst enemy,” admitted the Australian.
“Today was good and I will try to stay a bit more relaxed over the weekend.”
Bland feels no such pressure after winning the London Seniors Masters back in 1995 and now aged 60, the widely successful South African takes a more sangfroid approach these days.
He played while not fully fit last week but the recuperative waters and clean air of Bad Ragaz, a renowned spa town, seem to have done the trick.
He made a strong start to his round with four birdies in the opening six holes and got it to five under with a three at the 15th. He slightly tarnished a fine putting display with a three-putt at the next before getting the shot back at the last to finish with a 65.
“It is a great start and this week I feel completely well after being forced to withdraw from The Senior British Open with an injury to the muscle in my hip. I made no mistakes, other than at the 16th, and I putted really well on some wet greens,” commented Bland.
John Chillas of Scotland, Nick Job of England, Paul Leonard of Northern Ireland and Spanish former Ryder Cup player José Rivero are two shots off the lead in fifth place.
For Leonard, a round of three under par 67 represented his best score of the year by some six strokes and would have been even better but for bogeys at the final two holes.
“It has been a struggle this year to get any form as I have not been able to play much because my wife is unwell,” revealed Leonard. “Today was better, although I am disappointed to finish as I did.”
Horacio Carbonetti of Argentina, who won this event in 2003 and 2004, is among the group on two under par while defending champion Terry Gale of Australia started with a level par round of 70.