Mark Mouland’s record-equalling seven under par round of 64 handed him a one shot lead after the opening day of the Benahavis Senior Masters at La Quinta Golf and Country Club, in the Benahavis region of southern Spain.
The Welshman, in his second full season on the European Senior Tour, is chasing his second title and a bogey free round gave him the perfect start as he finished the day a shot clear of the in-form Chris Williams.
Mouland began with back to back birdies before five successive birdies from the seventh hole left him seven under through 11 holes and he cruised home with seven pars to sign for a 64, which equalled the course record set by Boonchu Ruangkit on his way to victory at La Quinta two years ago.
“I putted really lovely,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “I had a couple of good chances at the 17th and 18th but I’d have taken seven under all day long. There was no panic at all and it could actually have been two or three better but it’s not an easy course, especially on the greens.
“I was trying to birdie every hole but the greens are tough to read. I've been playing well and played well in America last week so I'm not surprised with that round to be honest.”
Earlier in the day, Williams took the clubhouse lead after a six under par round of 65, courtesy of a birdie on the fourth hole, which was followed by a bogey, before a superb run of four successive birdies from the seventh hole preceded another gained shot on the 12th and an eagle on the par five 14th.
A bogey on the 17th hole left the South African in second place on six under as he searches for his second Senior Tour title in as many years.
“I started off quite slow and was level par after six holes,” said the 53 year old, who finished tied second at the season-opening Mallorca Open Senior two weeks ago before a tied 25th place finish at the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. “I put the four birdies together then and I was giving myself plenty of opportunities so I could be aggressive with my putter, and I putted well too.
“There are a couple of tough holes out there but if you play nicely here you’ll go low and the putting will be the difference.
“It’s about momentum. Once you gain momentum you start to go with it and on the seventh I hit a great drive and chipped and putted and that drive started me off really.”
Delroy Cambridge was a shot further back alongside Anders Forsbrand after they carded respective five under par rounds of 66. Cambridge’s round, which he described as one of his best rounds in three years, included no less than seven birdies and, like Williams, he put his success down to his putting.
“I putted really well today,” said the Jamaican, “I missed two putts that I thought I should have made but otherwise I made everything. I didn’t hit the ball great, it was decent on the front nine and not so great on the back nine but I made some putts to save the round.
“That’s one of the best rounds I've had in the three years since my last win. In the last couple of years the putter has let me down and today I made more putts than I have in a long time so it feels good that I can do that.”
He was joined later in the day by Swede Forsbrand, whose six birdies and one bogey contributed to a positive start as he looks to improve on his 55th place finish in the 2011 Senior Tour Order of Merit.There were seven players three shots off the lead on four under par, including former Ryder Cup Captain Mark James, Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe and Gary Wolstenholme, the winner of the season’s first tournament in Mallorca.