Frenchman Marc Farry produced a dream start to the Handa Cup Senior Masters with a flawless six under par 66 to share the first round lead with Japan’s Katsuyoshi Tomori.
Farry made six birdies before Tomori birdied the last three holes at Ohmurasaki Golf Club, Saitama, on the European Senior Tour’s first visit to Japan to join him at the top of the leaderboard.
England’s Barry Lane is one of three players on five under par alongside Japan’s Hiroshi Ueda and Sieki Okuda while Sandy Lyle of Scotland and England's Gordon J Brand and Mark Belsham share sixth place a shot further back after four under par rounds of 68.
Farry’s first Senior Tour title earlier this year was also title sponsored by Dr Handa – the Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Failte Ireland – before he added the Cannes Mougins Masters to his resumé.
He is now in the frame for a third title of the year.
“This is the sort of round you dream of, no bogeys, six birdies, 12 pars,” said the 51 year old. “I was in good form throughout the round. I wish it could be like that every round.”
Last week he finished fourth in the Handa Australian Senior Open and has carried the form to Japan.
“Perth last week was more difficult in the heat but it was good preparation for this, my second visit to Japan. Perth has given me some momentum here.”
As for the Tour’s first visit to Japan, Farry added: “The European Senior Tour is more like a world Tour now. Like the mainstream Tour we go all around the world. It is fantastic the Japan PGA has welcomed us here.”
Tomori made history as the first Japanese golfer to progress through the European Tour Qualifying School in 1996. Ten years later, as a senior, he won the 2006 Scandinavian Senior Open to become only the fourth Japanese golfer to win on the Senior Tour and is in a good position on home soil.
Lane, whose round included an eagle two on the fifth hole, was clearly enjoying his trip to the land of the rising sun.
“It’s great to be back in Japan,” said the winner of five European Tour titles in addition to one on the Senior Tour. “I’ve been here a number of times in the nineties but it’s great that the Senior Tour is here for the first time.
“The greens here are so big but you still have to be hit the right places to be successful here. To shoot 67 with 37 putts is pretty good going though.
“I’ve been struggling with my putting recently. I was using the long putter but changed back to the short putter yesterday, so I’m back on the putting green this afternoon to keep practicing.”
Lyle suffered a rib injury last week in Australia and feared he would have to pull out of the event in Japan but the ribcage felt good enough to play and the result was certainly better than expected.
“Well that was a pretty good round all things considering,” said the former Open and Masters Champion. “My goal today was really to survive, I’m just happy to be below par.
“If you play the par fives strongly you should do well on this course. It’s in great condition, there’s no wind, but the large greens do take a while to adjust to.”
Belsham got his Senior Tour card through last year’s Qualifying School and has adjusted well to life as a Touring professional after 15 years teaching at the Stonelees Golf Centre.