Peter Baker and Miguel Angel Martín carded six under par rounds of 66 at Arras Golf Resort to share the first round lead at the Senior Open Hauts de France by Jean van de Velde.
The pair made the most of the calm conditions in the morning, finishing their rounds before heavy rain made for tougher conditions for the later groups.
They sit one stroke ahead of rookie Stuart Little at the top of the leaderboard after their rounds. Both players carded eight birdies and two bogeys and 1993 Ryder Cup player Baker recorded his first sub-70 round of the season to share the 18-hole lead.
“I’m really pleased, it was a good day and I played nicely,” said Baker. “I had a couple of dropped shots despite hitting good shots, but I gave myself a lot of chances.
“I hit a great shot into the par three, the tenth, and it went off the back of the green – I had a tricky lie, chipped it too hard and then missed the putt. Then I hit a bump in the green on the 12thwhich knocked it to the right. I chipped it up and missed a short putt. That was the way it went, but I’m really happy otherwise.”
Martín is keen to carry over his form from last week’s Senior Italian Open, where the Spaniard finished in a share of third place – missing out on a place in a play-off by one stroke.
“It’s looking good,” said Martín. “Last week, I missed a couple of short putts on the last day, and I played really well. Today I’m playing good too, but I’m putting so well also.
“You have to be straight on this golf course and in the right position on these greens, they are tricky, but they are good. The ball rolled really well, for me at least.”
Little, who earned his place on the Staysure Tour after securing one of the five coveted cards at Qualifying School in February, is making just his second start this week. The Englishman recovered from an early bogey on his second hole and made six birdies on his remaining 16 holes.
“The golf course played massively different from practice,” said Little. “I was a little bit foxed by the second hole and made bogey, but settled down with a birdie on the next and played really steady on the way in.
“Form is key on this tour. Last week was a good week even though I finished mid-thirties. There was steady progression every day – coming in today felt better again, and it was nice to shoot the score we did.”
Making his regular Staysure Tour debut this week, 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie shares fourth place with Jonathan Lomas and Dan Olsen. In seventh on three under par are Nick Job, who shot his age, Jean-François Remesy, David Shacklady and Chris Williams.