Roger Chapman continued his fine form so far in 2010 by posting an opening round 69 to set the pace in the Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
The 51 year old Englishman marked the European Senior Tour’s first visit to his homeland this season – and first 2010 event in Continental Europe – with a flawless four under par front nine 32 at Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire. He added another birdie on the tenth hole before his only bogey of the day on the tenth.
Chapman, who this year celebrates the tenth anniversary of his only European Tour win, picked up another shot on the 15th hole to finish on five under par, two strokes clear of compatriot John Harrison at the top of the early leaderboard.
“I started off with a good front nine with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and seventh holes but I did miss two birdie opportunities on the two par threes, so I could have been out in under 30,” he said. “I hit out of bounds on the 11th which gave me a six but overall I played nicely. I’ll take two more rounds like that and I’d be very happy.
“The course played well given that spring is a month behind and the conditions we’ve had recently. Some parts of the morning were bitterly cold but when you got out of the wind and into the sun it was pleasant. Stapleford really is a lovely spot.”
After starting the season with a share of ninth place in Mauritius, Chapman added further top ten finishes in Brunei and South Africa, with a share of 11th place in Thailand sandwiched in between, to sit fourth in the Senior Tour Order of Merit.
Harrison, who won the Senior Tour Qualifying School in Portugal last November, enjoyed a dream Senior Tour debut, shooting a three under par 70 just six days after turning 50.
The Matfen Hall professional had plenty to celebrate on the course, starting his Senior Tour career with a birdie on the first hole at Stapleford Park. He added four more but dropped shots on the ninth and 12th holes to lie two shots behind Chapman.
John Chillas had earlier posted the second hole-in-one of his European Senior Tour on the 190 yard par three ninth hole to move to the top of the leaderboard but the 13th hole proved unlucky for the Scot as he racked up a double bogey six followed by a bogey on the 14th to slip back.