Headfort’s Brendan McGovern is best placed of the Irish contingent at two-under-par after the first round of the Legends Tour Final Qualifying Stage at Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey, with Damian Mooney of Lough Erne a shot further back.
With five playing cards up for grabs, the opening day was always going to be about limiting mistakes and putting yourself in the mix, and that’s exactly what McGovern and Mooney did.
McGovern took advantage of the par-5s on the front nine, birdieing the opener, gave a shot back on the fourth, but rebounded with birdies at the par-5 sixth and par-4 seventh to make the turn in two-under. Another birdie followed on the par-5 12th, but that was cancelled by a bogey on the narrow 13th. McGovern then carded five successive pars to close out the round, his total of 70 strokes good for a tie for sixth place at two-under-par and two strokes off the lead.
“You’ve got to get into it early, there’s no room for error with with only five cards on the line” McGovern said afterwards, “but I’m in the game, as the fella says, so we’ll see what the next three rounds bring.”
“It’s a tough golf course, set up very strong and it’s a strong field as well. There’s no room really, you’ve got to take your chances as they come along. I got a break early on, made a birdie at the first when I wasn’t in great position after two, a par-5, but made it up on the third shot and made birdie, then made a nice up-and-down on the second, it’s a tough par-3 over water.
“That settled me into the round and I hit a lot of good shots after that, made a couple of bogeys, but made another couple of birdies so I’ll take the round to be brutally honest. Driving, which has been ok of late, wasn’t great today, but I was never really in trouble off the tee, but my iron shots were quite good so I’ll take it.
“It’s easy to say it could’ve been better, but at the same time, it could’ve been worse. Round one, you’ve got to get into it, it’s easy to blow yourself out of the water, so I’m still in the game.”
Mooney, having advanced from the first qualifying stage at the same venue last weekend, started his round on the 10th, picking up shots on both par-5s on the back nine, but giving one back at the par-3 14th. Mooney then matched two birdies with two bogeys on the front side to sign for a 71, ending the first round in a tie for 13th.
David Higgins of Waterville, who also started on the back nine, got off to a damaging start, bogeying two of the first three holes and made the turn in three-over without a birdie to his name. He responded well, going bogey-free on the front nine and chipping in with two birdies to move back to one-over and a tie for 32nd place after day one.
Galway’s Joe Lyons, going off the tenth as well, also made the turn in three-over, but two additional bogeys on the front side left Lyons tied for 64th at five-over, nine shots behind leading trio of David Shacklady and Simon Griffiths from England, and Spain’s Carl Suneson.