South Africa David Frost maintained his impressive record at Constance Belle Mare Plage, firing an eight under par round of 64 to take a three shot lead after the first round of the MCB Tour Championship.
Frost won the MCB Open over the Legend Course in 2010 before finishing runner-up to Tom Lehman in last year’s MCB Tour Championship, and his affinity for Mauritius continued as he carded nine birdies, dropping his only shot of the day on the 12th hole.
The 53 year old has only had one over par round at Constance Belle Mare Plage – a final round 73 when he finished fifth on his first trip to the island in 2009 – and he is now a cumulative 35 under par for his ten rounds over the Legend Course.
He is three strokes clear of compatriot Steve Van Vuuren after matching his lowest score at the venue for the European Senior Tour’s season finale, having also carded a 64 in the second round of his victory two years ago.
“I was very happy with the way I played,” he said. “I hit some very nice shots and made some good putts today. I got lucky on the third when I made a long putt from 35ft but aside from that I hit it really close and just made those putts.
“The greens are in fabulous condition, which made putting enjoyable. It’s a great start but it is never over. Tom had a great start last year but I managed to catch him and had a chance to tie him on the last hole, and I came back against Roger Chapman when won in a play-off in 2010. I had been leading before that and Roger put pressure on me.
“That’s how the game affects you. It’s a good start but you have to just keep playing and stick your game plan.
“I shot a 64 in 2010 but I bogeyed the last then. Today I played solid and was very consistent. That is my goal – to play consistent golf and then think about winning on the last nine holes on Sunday.”
Van Vuuren, who is currently 40th on the European Senior Tour Order of Merit, carded six birdies in his five under par round of 67, and he attributed his performance to a change to his putter.
Prompted by former Masters Champion Ian Woosnam, Van Vuuren switched to the belly putter last week for the first time and won the SA Senior Masters in his homeland
“It wasn’t a day when I felt on top of the game but I kept it in play and I putted really well,” he said.
“I went to a belly putter last week, despite the ruling. It was the first time I had tried it and it really does work.
“I might as well use it while I can. I used it in the SA Senior Masters last week and won, which boost my confidence with the putter, and it worked nicely again today. The greens were fantastic too.
“It was Woosie who told me to try the belly putter when we were in France. I haven’t holed many putts during the last two years, especially over seven feet. So it was nice to see that improvement today.”
American Tim Thelen strengthen his chances of dislodged Barry Lane from second place in the Senior Tour Order of Merit, birdieing the last two holes for a four under par 68.
Peter Fowler, the 2011 Order of Merit winner, is in a group of four players a further shot back following a three under par 69, while the man who succeeds him as winner of the John Jacobs Trophy this week, Double Senior Major Champion Roger Chapman, opened with a two under par 70, which included a double bogey six on the 12th hole after finding the water.
Lane matched that score while Lehman, the 1996 Open Champion, started his title defence with a one under par 71 after struggling with his putter.
“I had two three putts in the first 14 holes and I didn’t putt very well today,” said Lehman. “I had a 71 in the final round last year when I won though, so there is still a glimmer of hope.”