Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open. (Getty Images)
American Bob Boyd, playing in his first full season since battling a career threatening form of leukemia, shot a stunning opening round 63 to lead the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open by two strokes in Switzerland.
The 53 year old had a successful bone marrow transplant in 2006 after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and has slowly been regaining his strength and form, finishing eighth at the Azores Seniors Open and the Russian Seniors Open.
He admitted that he had struggled to come to terms with links courses in between those two season- best finishes, as the European Seniors Tour visited Jersey, Wales, Ireland and then Royal Troon.
But Boyd said the Golf Club Bad Ragaz was more to his liking after carding eight birdies and just the one bogey, when he found the bunker on the eighth hole, to lead on seven under par ahead of Spain’s Domingo Hospital and Scotland’s Bill Longmuir who both carded rounds of 65.
“I played very well today and I holed a lot of putts,” said Boyd, who is the last Qualifying School graduate to win a European Seniors Tour event after his victory in the 2005 Open de España Senior. “I only made 27 putts for the round and that included two on the 16th hole.
“I spent last week at home just working on my putting and it paid off today. I also hit every fairway today though and only missed one green at the 13th and that was only by a foot.
“I’m not too long off the tee but I am straight and this course is good for me. I didn’t play the links stretch of the season very well but this is certainly more suited to my game.”
Boyd is now keen to avoid a repeat of 2005 when he followed a superb opening round 66 with a disappointing 77 to drop out of contention, eventually finishing in tied 31st.
“When I played here three years ago I started well with a 66 but then shot a 77 and a 67 so I’m definitely looking for a better second round this time. On this course you have to go out and make some birdies.
“This is my first full season since 2005 after fighting the illness and I’m getting my strength back. I’m working towards getting another 15ft-20ft off the tee at the moment.”
Hospital, who finished second behind Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader Ian Woosnam at the Parkridge Polish Seniors Championship in May, carded five birdies in his flawless five under par round of 65.
Longmuir also went round without dropping a shot as he chases his second victory of 2008 following his win at the season curtain raiser, the DGM Barbados Open. New Zealand’s Simon Owen is a shot further back on four under par.