Former winner Loren Roberts and his fellow American Jay Haas set the clubhouse target at The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard, while Tom Watson continued to display the sort of form that almost delivered a sixth Open Championship last week.
Roberts won this title in 2006 at Turnberry, the scene for Watson’s Open Championship heroics last week, and carded a four under par round of 66 at Sunningdale.
That was matched by former Ryder Cup player Haas, who produced a stunning back nine 31 to join Roberts in a one shot clubhouse lead over Watson, Jerry Bruner, Sam Torrance, Tom Kite and Greg Norman.
“I felt I needed to shoot low to have a chance here,” said Haas. “I felt like the scores were going to be good.”
Haas and Torrance were playing together alongside defending champion Bruce Vaughan and Haas admitted Scot Torrance’s knowledge of the course – he lives just down the road from Sunningdale and plays it regularly – had given him some help with shot selection.
“He knows this course as well as anybody out here,” said the 55 year old, who holds the US PGA Tour record for most cuts made.
“I just kind of watched some of the club selection they took off the tee, and then after the shot maybe listened to him a little bit. Just watching him I guess it helped me, and he was playing well too. I can see why he likes this golf course.”
Roberts was full of praise for the Berkshire venue, and is adamant that he can add a second Senior Open Championship this week.
“The course is playing really well this week,” he said. “The greens are absolutely magnificent and the ball goes right where you hit it so if you can get the ball in the right spots you’re going to make some birdies.
“I like the way I’m starting to round into form. I drove the ball very well and if you can drive the ball well it really sets up the golf course.
Watson showed no signs of a hangover from his play-off defeat to Stewart Cink in Scotland last weekend.
The American putted well to birdie the par five first and the 156 yard fourth and turned in three under 32. But, as he did at the last hole at Turnberry, Watson missed a putt from eight feet on the 13th which cost him a birdie and saw his effort at the 18th lip out to finish three under.
On the course Sir Nick Faldo got off to a good start to reach two under through three.