Italy’s Giuseppe Cali and Ross Drummond of Scotland each carded a one under par 71 at Slaley Hall to grab a share of the first round lead after a tough opening day in the De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship.
The duo both battled the Hunting Course which was playing its full 7081 yards due to the pre-tournament rain, to record the only under par scores from the 120 strong field.
Ironically, neither of the pacesetters looked like leader material after a tough opening nine holes where they both reached the turn in figures of two over par 38. But both men turned their cards around turning for home.
First in the clubhouse was Cali who produced an excellent run of four birdies in six holes from the tenth. The Italian dropped a shot at the 16th, but two par figures to finish saw the 55 year old from San Carlo more than content with his opening effort.
“The course was playing very long because of all the rain so it was a bit of a grind at times but I am more than happy with one under par to start,” he said. “Several tees have been moved up so it’s shortened it a bit for us and it’s definitely playable. The greens are very nice and if you’re stroking your putts nicely you can make some birdies.”
In the match behind, a birdie three at the 18th to crown an excellent back nine of 33 saw Drummond join the Italian at the head of affairs.
“I got off to a pretty slow start with bogeys at the second and third and nothing happened for me to get going at all. I had quite a few birdie chances but couldn’t get the ball in the hole but on the back nine I started rolling the putts better and made four birdies.
“It’s just unfortunate I had a bogey on the 17th when I came up short in the bunker and didn’t get it up and down but had a huge bonus on the 18th with a birdie three. I hit three wood off the tee and the same club for the second shot and put it to two feet which was a great way to finish.
“I’ve been fairly inconsistent this year but today was a lot better. I managed to make some putts and make some birdies that’s something I haven’t managed so far. At least if you can make some birdies it offsets the bogeys and bad shots.”
Cali and Drummond led the way by a shot from Drummond’s compatriots Bill Longmuir and Bill McColl and England’s Gordon Brand Jnr.
Of the trio, Brand was the most consistent in the demanding conditions with two birdies and two bogeys his only departures from par while Longmuir doubled the tally in both departments. However, the most disappointed of the three not to be in a more prominent position was McColl who led the tournament at three under par with two holes remaining before double bogeying the eighth and bogeying the ninth to finish.
Further down the leaderboard it was a tough day for three of the pre-tournament favourites; Scotland’s Sam Torrance, England’s Carl Mason and Ian Woosnam of Wales.
Mason, who won his 20th European Seniors Tour title two weeks ago in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland, carded a five over par 77 while Torrance could only fare one stroke better with a four over par 76.
“I just need to hole some putts out there to give myself a chance,” said the Scot who topped the Seniors Tour Order of Merit in both 2005 and 2006. “This is a good course but if you go into the rough then you’re dead.”
Most disappointed of the trio, however, was current Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader Woosnam who slipped to an error-strewn seven over par 79, a round which included a run of six dropped shots in six holes around the turn from the sixth to the 11th.
“I just couldn’t get into my rhythm at all out there,” said the Welshman who has already won in Poland and Russia in his rookie Seniors Tour season and whose cause was not helped by the incurring of a penalty stroke on the 11th when his caddie stood on his ball in the rough.
|T1||BRAND JNR, Gordon||SCO||18||4|
|T1||BRAND, Gordon J||ENG||18||4|