Peter Senior has stamped his mark on the Handa Australian Senior Open, firing a brilliant opening seven under par 65 at Royal Perth Golf Club in Western Australia.
In stifling conditions with the temperature reaching 39 degrees in Perth, the Queenslander hit an extraordinary 17 of 18 greens in regulation and finished without a bogey for a two-shot lead over fellow Australian Peter Fowler.
The Senior rookie made a birdie to begin his round on the reachable par-five ninth hole before Perth's searing heat took hold.
But while others came and went in the oppressive conditions, the 19-time winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia simply ploughed on through the tough back nine.
He then cashed in with three more birdies in his closing six holes, including a four foot putt on his last, the eighth, in front of an appreciative gallery.
A clear sign of how first-class his score was came when only two other sub-par rounds were posted in the morning. These came from evergreen Victorian Mike Clayton and Kiwi Craig Owen, both of whom signed for 71.
“Any time you shoot that kind of score you’re going to be pleased,” said Senior.
“The greens are going to get quicker. You can’t expect to hole everything on these greens. The guys out there can play so I’m not going to take anything for granted. I was disappointed last year as I played well until the final six holes. Hopefully I’ll do a little better this year.”
Hot on Senior’s tail from the afternoon groups was Peter “Chooky” Fowler. Fowler finished his blitzing round with a crowd-pleasing birdie on the eighteenth hole to sign for a 5-under 67.
“I’ve never played this course. It’s a very, very good course in fantastic condition,” said Fowler.
“It’s not the longest course in the world but it’s pretty demanding around the green, well maintained – the best I’ve seen for a long time. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“It’s my first senior tournament in Australia. I’ve seen some guys I haven’t seen for a while so it’s good fun.”
Of the other big names from the European field, Welsh Major Winner Ian Woosnam appeared out of sorts but mixed five birdies with five bogeys for an even par 72, while jovial Scot and past Ryder Cup Champion Sam Torrance fired a 73. The leading player from Europe was Englishmen Kevin Spurgeon, who finished on one under alongside five Australians.
“It was pretty hot, but we had some cloud cover this afternoon. I quite like the heat but it does drain you”, said Spurgeon.
“I’m enjoying the course. I think it’s a great golf course. The fairways are tight and the greens put well. You’ve just got to keep out of the trees. The whole thing is set up really well.
“It’s my first visit to Australia and I’m loving every minute of it.”