A flawless back nine saw home favourite Ross Drummond take a share of the first round lead in the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Senior Open with Argentine Luis Carbonetti and Englishman Bob Cameron.
The Scot, who is still searching for his maiden European Senior Tour title after three second places, posted three birdies after the turn to sign for a 69, the same score as his playing partner Cameron, to match the clubhouse target set earlier by Carbonetti.
“It was a strong finish,” said Drummond. “It was nice to birdie the 14th as I hadn’t been doing anything or taking my chances. I came in strong and that gave me a boost for the final few holes.
“On the 16th I hit a gap wedge to 10ft and holed that for birdie then on the 18th I had a pitch and run to four feet. It was a really nice finish.”
The 52 year old has enjoyed another consistent season on the Senior Tour, with a run of four consecutive top ten finishes prior to The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard, but he is keen to make his breakthrough at Fairmont St Andrews.
“I played nicely in June – very consistently. I just didn’t shoot a really low round when I needed to. I felt I had a good chance to win in Wales but it didn’t go well over the last few holes.
“Hopefully one of these days it will happen. This would be a great tournament to get that first win. The Scottish Senior Open would be a nice one to have. I’d take any one to be honest but it would be nice to win one with a healthy first cheque.”
Carbonetti produced his ‘shot of the year’ for an eagle on the ninth hole, holing a sand wedge second shot from 100 yards, to reach the turn in two under par 34 after earlier battling to stay in the red with two birdies and two bogeys.
He picked up another shot on the 14th hole and then drained a 10ft putt to save par on the last having tamed the windy conditions at Fairmont St Andrews.
Playing in the same group as his elder brother Horacio, who three putted the 18th for a 73, Carbonetti said his vastly improved putter was the key to his storming start.
“I putted very well from three or four feet ,” said 56 year old. “This season I’ve not putted well at all. It was bad in Wales and Ireland which were big tournaments so I went back to my old putter.
“It’s not easy to score in wind like there is today so I’m pleased. It was nice to play with Horacio – it is the first time we’ve been together in the first round and he also played well but three putted the last. The ninth hole was really the difference. It was the shot of the year for me.”
Cameron opened with a bogey after a poor tee shot on the first hole but hit back with four birdies.
He said: “I hit a bad tee shot off the first and then a bad second shot but after that I played steady. The wind was blowing from right to left which suited me as I could shape my drive. I’ve played quite well in the wind this year – I just need to do it consistently over three rounds.”
Australian Peter Senior, a four time winner on The European Tour, made a fine start to his Senior Tour career, carding a 70 to sit one shot behind the leaders.
Meanwhile Senior’s playing partner Sam Torrance, who designed the course played through the pain barrier to sign for a three over par 75.
The former Ryder Cup Captain has been struggling with a back injury which he said caused him the most pain he had ever felt on a golf course.
“I was screaming every time I hit a shot, it was a nightmare,” said the Scot. “But it’s not over yet. A 65 tomorrow would put me right back in it.”
Fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam birdied the 18th hole for a 71 to finish in a group of eight players two strokes behind the leading trio.