England’s Bob Cameron has a two stroke lead over former Ryder Cup players José Rivero and Costantino Rocca after overcoming tricky conditions at Royal Porthcawl to post an opening round three under par 69 in the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open.
A fine display on the greens took the 56 year old to the top of the leaderboard, with five birdies on his card alongside an eagle three on the par five 12th hole.
With winds of up to 25mph making playing conditions tough on the links course, Cameron, Rivero and Rocca are the only players under par, with home favourite Ian Woosnam opening with a 75.
Two time Senior Tour winner Cameron, who finished third in the season curtain raiser in Brunei, admitted he was pleased with his start, given the difficulty caused by the wind.
“The conditions were extremely difficult – the wind was gusting and that is allied to the naturally tough course anyway,” he said.
“If you are not a natural low ball striker - and I’m not - it’s tough but I chipped and putted my way around.
“My round was based on good putting with the four birdies in a row from the fifth hole. I hit the par five eighth in two and then holed a bunker shot for eagle on the 12th. I had an unfortunate incident on the 15th when the ball went off the fairway into some thick stuff and we found it 30 seconds after I’d played another so that was tough luck. I hit it once off line and got penalised but my putting was key today. It just goes to show good putting can make a difference.
“The tees have been moved forward which has helped but on some holes the wind is blowing across the course so it is a severe test really.”
Italian Rocca, who recorded his first top ten finish of the season in Jersey last week, matched Spaniard Rivero’s round of 71 as his form continues to improve.
“It’s a very good start,” said Rocca. “I hit some good shots but my driving was bad from the third hole. Hitting the driver on the fairway is the most important thing here but it is difficult out there.
“In these conditions the course is not easy for anyone. There is a lot of cross wind.”
Ryder Cup winning Captain Woosnam, who won the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank two weeks ago after starting six shots off the pace in the final round, recovered from a double bogey on the third to finish on three over par - six strokes behind Cameron.
He said: “It was very tough out there. I thought some of these guys shooting three under par must have been playing a different golf course to us. The opening holes were extremely hard and if you hit some bad shots you get some high scores out there.
“There’s two more days to go – you’ve just have to hang in there. This is how I started in Ireland – three over par – so these guys have started well but there are two rounds to go and you have to dig in and be there for the back nine on the last day.”