Roger Chapman fired the best round of his European Senior Tour career as he soared into the first round lead with a red-hot seven under par 64 at the Casa Serena Open in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic.
The Englishman shot six birdies and just one bogey, continuing in the vein that saw him finish tied second at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters two weeks ago, but his pièce de résistance at the sun-drenched Casa Serena Golf came at the 18th as he sank a 30 foot putt for a closing eagle.“It’s one of those things where you try to two-putt but it goes in!” reflected a delighted Chapman afterwards.
“It was great. I’ve been playing really nicely, I had a good finish at Woburn and I've just been keeping it going really.
“I was quite confident in my game coming into this week and I just made some putts which I hadn’t been doing. I even missed a few four or five footers but the long putts equalled that so 64 was about right.”
The former European Tour winner may have been joined at the top of the leaderboard by Gordon Manson but for an unfortunate incident which saw the English-born Austrian incur a two shot penalty after his caddy raked a bunker before he played out, leaving him with a 66 and two shots off the lead.
But the day belonged to Chapman, who currently lies 14th in the Senior Tour Order of Merit having clinched two second place finishes in his six appearances this year.
The first came after a play-off defeat to David Frost in the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open last December and the second came two weeks ago despite going three over through the first four holes after an early triple bogey at Woburn.
The 52 year old certainly bounced back from that early set back and he has played his last three rounds of golf in fourteen under par, a reflection, he thinks, of the fact that his swing has finally come together under the tutelage of Gavin Christie.
Now he feels it may be his time to clinch that elusive first Senior Tour victory.
“I hope so,” he said, “I've been working a lot with Gavin for just over a year now and it’s just finally clicked so I'm enjoying my game and all of a sudden you’re hitting shots that you want to hit, little draws and little fades and I’m just feeling in control at the moment.”
One man who unfortunately lost control of his final score was Manson, who ripped up the front nine with six consecutive birdies between the third and eighth holes on the way to what could have been a 64 but ended up being a 66 due to the bunker ruling, ending the day two shots off the lead and one shot behind second-placed Mark Mouland of Wales.
“I went into the bunker on the 11th and the caddy got there before me. He took the rake and brushed the bunker and it had no effect on the shot but that’s the rule and it’s cost me two shots,” said Manson.
“It was a great round though. The putts just started to drop in the front nine, I had been waiting for a good putting round and I think that’s the first time I’ve had a 29 on a front nine.
“Maybe I can use the disappointment to my advantage because five under is still good and I’m not far away,” he concluded.
Mouland also had a cracking start to his round as he shot three consecutive bogies on the opening three holes before consolidating with five more birdies on the way to a six under par 65.
The Welshman has not yet managed a win in his rookie year on the European Senior Tour and lies 31st in the Order of Merit on €46,176, helped by his third place finish at the ISPS Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum in Melton Mowbray.
Spaniard Domingo Hospital is a shot further back tied with Manson and Englishman David J Russell, on five under, while it was also a special day for Bill Longmuir as he shot the 20th hole in one of his career at the par three second hole, finding the cup with a seven iron from 158 yards before ending the day tied for 12th on three under.Former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance is three shots off the pace in a share of sixth place after opening with a 67, while Englishman Gary Wolstenholme made a solid start to the defence of his title with a three under par 68.