Italy's Costantino Rocca can look forward to hosting quite a party after winning 183 bottles of Hardys wine for a hole-in-one on the par-three 17th hole during the first round of the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open over the East Course at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club near Edinburgh.
The genial 50 year-old former Ryder Cup player from Bergamo hit a seven iron into the hole on the downwind 183-yard par-3 and his ace helped him to post a five under par 67 and claim a two shot lead over Scotland’s Ross Drummond after the opening round of the £225,000 event.
Irish Ryder Cup star Eamonn Darcy shares third place with England’s Bob Cameron, Australia’s David Good, South Africa’s Bobby Lincoln and Spain’s Jose Rivero on two under par 70.
“It was a great way to finish what was a good round of golf,” said Rocco who is best-known in Scotland as the man who lost in a play-off to America’s John Daly at the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews.
“The ball landed on the front edge of the green and then bounced up in the air before dropping straight into the hole. It is the tenth ace I’ve had in competition,” he added.
The Italian began his round with birdies on the 491-yard par-five first hole and the 426-yard par-four second.
He went further under par with a three at the 319-yard par-four fifth hole, dropped a shot at the seventh but then raced to the turn in 32 with his fourth birdie of the round at the 349-yard eighth hole before his late ace gave him the lead over the field.
Rocca’s nearest challenger is Scottish rookie Drummond, who cruised home in three under par 33 to post an impressive 69 and give himself every chance of a fifth top-ten finish of the season.
Drummond went out in level par 35 but birdies at the 500-yard par-five tenth hole, the 392-yard par-four 14th and the 423-yard par-four 15th saw him close within two shots of the Italian, who has finished runner-up in his last three starts on the European Seniors Tour after winning earlier in the season at the AIB Irish Seniors Open.
“It was a solid round of golf,” said the Scot. “The birdies at the 14th and 15th were bonuses because they are two of the harder holes on the course and I finished well with two good up-and-downs on the last two holes.”
Defending champion Sam Torrance dropped a shot when his opening drive hit a tree 50-yards off the first tee but he recovered to post a one under par 71 that left him level with Italy’s Giuseppe Cali, England’s Richard Green and Nick Job and Jim Rhodes, New Zealand’s Simon Owen and Argentina’s Adan Sowa, plus European Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader, England’s Carl Mason.
“It was a dreadful start but I played some good golf in the conditions,” said Torrance. “A 71 is five shots better that my opening round last year so I don’t suppose I can complain.”
Mason has won four times this season and needs just £2,600 this week to set a new European Seniors Tour record for earnings for the season.
He dropped a shot at the second but then recovered with birdies at the fourth, fifth, sixth and tenth before a double bogey on the 392-yard par-four 14th stalled his progress up the leaderboard.
“The six was a shame but anything around par is a good score in these conditions,” said the Englishman. “I’m in a good position but will need to play well if I’m going to catch Costantino over the weekend.”