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Thursday, 23 July 2009
The Senior Open Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
The Senior Open Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

Fred Funk carded the lowest-ever opening round in history of The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard as Tom Watson responded to his Open Championship play-off heartache with a 67.

American Funk’s 64 at Sunningdale gave him a two shot cushion over compatriots Jay Haas and Loren Roberts - the winner of this event in 2006 on the same course Watson almost made history on Sunday - Ireland's Des Smyth and South African Chris Williams.

The 59 year old Watson, who came agonisingly close to becoming the oldest major winner in history before missing out to Stewart Cink, insisted it was not difficult to put that disappointment behind him after his three under par round.

"That was a big story last week for me," said Watson, who is looking to win this title for the fourth time. "But here it's a different story this week. I've got to write it - let's get on with it."

There was no sign of the putting nerves that appeared to get the better of him on the final hole at Turnberry over the opening holes at Sunningdale, Watson draining birdie putts on the first, fourth and fifth holes.

At the par three 13th Watson missed a birdie effort from eight feet - the same distance as his missed putt at the last in Scotland which would have given him a sixth Open Championship title.

"I'm not very good at eight footers right now," he joked.

On the 18th his birdie effort lipped out to leave Watson three shots off Funk’s furious early pace.

"It was a good start," said Watson. "I played well, I made some good early putts and missed some makeable putts in the middle of the round. I played a good round of golf, kept the ball in play off the tee, which is critical here. I'm obviously happy with a 67 starting out - it was a good score."

Funk was only one under par at the turn thanks to a birdie at the par five opening hole, but the 53 year old burst into life on the back nine with five birdies, including one at the 17th where he chipped in from a bunker.

"The front nine I got out of position numerous times and made some great par putts," said Funk.

"And then I made an unexpected birdie at 11 and started hitting it close from there. Any time you do what I did on 17, it's pretty nice."

Scotland's Sam Torrance, who resides close to Sunningdale and regularly plays the course, is alongside Watson on three under, as are Americans Jerry Bruner and Tom Kite and two-time Open winner Greg Norman.

 

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