Peter Fowler, Philip Golding and Miguel Angel Martin all have realistic aspirations of winning the 2013 Senior Tour Order of Merit and the in-form trio all underlined their credentials with opening rounds of 68 in the French Riviera Masters.
Spaniard Martin is currently fourth on the money list after five top ten finishes in nine appearances this season, and he will have his sights set on a maiden Senior Tour title after finishing one shot behind leaders Andrew Oldcorn of Scotland and Argentina’s Luis Carbonetti.
Martin carded birdies on the third, fourth, sixth, 11th and 15th holes, with his only bogey of the day on the fifth hole.
“I playing really well at the moment,” said the 51 year old, who was tied fourth in last wek’s Russian Open Golf Championship (Senior). “The last few rounds have been very good.
“I only missed one green today, which shows how well I played. I’ve been playing well for a month and I’ve been very consistent. My irons gave me a lot of confidence.
“Everyone is asking me when I will win, but I just try to go out and play. There are so many good players out here and every week someone seems to beat me! So I’m just waiting, but I’m enjoying it and I’m scoring good every round.”
Golding, who won the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, is sixth on the Order of Merit having also recorded top five finishes in the SSE Scottish Senior Open and two weeks ago in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open.
After starting with a birdie, he dropped back-to-back shots on the second and third holes, but surged back up the leaderboard with five birdies after the turn in a back nine of 31.
“Any time you shoot under par is good,” he said. “It was a bit of a struggle early on when I made a couple of bad swings but to come back in five under par is very pleasing.
“To be one shot off the lead is good. The game has been pretty solid the last few weeks. The weather is beautiful here though and I’m hoping for a good weekend and to be in contention on Sunday afternoon.”
Fowler, who was tied fifth last year, has a little more ground to make up in the Order of Merit if he is to regain the John Jacobs Trophy he won in 2011, with the Australian currently in 11th position.
In his last six events, Fowler has developed a pattern of following strong week with a less satisfactory return, alternating top six finishes – in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, the SSE Scottish Senior Open and the WINSTONgolf Senior Open - with more disappointing results of tied 26th in the Berenberg Masters, tied 38th in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters and tied 20th last week in Russia.
“It would be good if the trend continued this week then I can have the not so good week when I’m off next week,” he joked. “If you are playing well every other week it means your game isn’t too far away. So I’m hopeful.
“It was a good result today even if I didn’t play as well as I would like, but overall I’m happy with that start. I putted really well today and I felt like I swung the club well, but I didn’t zip the ball like Woosie does.
"When the weather is this good, you have to play well. Obviously it suits me and it’s nice not having to put a sweater on. It’s very pleasant and the resort is great, so it is ideal for me.”