Headfort’s Brendan McGovern posted a solid opening two-under-par 70 to grab a share of 10th spot after day one of the Farmfoods European Senior Masters.
The colourful veteran was his typically steady self and after nine straight pars to start, he added two birdies on the way home in a blemish-free round of golf that has him five shots off the lead.
Meanwhile Des Smyth carded three birdies on his way to an even par return that finds him in a big share of 23rd position. It wasn’t such a good day, however, for Eamonn Darcy and Philip Walton who posted rounds of 77 and 79 to find themselves well off the pace.
That pace is being set by Markus Brier who birdied half of the holes at Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club and will take a two-stroke lead into day two.
The two-time European Tour winner wasted no time building his lead as he opened Day One with four straight birdies and added another pair before making the turn without a dropped shot on six-under-par.
“I really got off to a flying start,” he said. “I hit a very good putt on the first hole, which was a longer one, and then I started hitting the ball a bit closer. During the middle part of the round I was struggling a little, but I holed some really long putts. I made two from probably 18 and 20 metres, which are the sort of ones you’re normally looking to two-putt.
“I had a three-putt on ten, but made three birdies again, on 12, 13 and 14 where I hit it quite close. At the end of the round, my long game was good and my putting wasn’t, but it’s all good.”
The Austrian, who turned 50-years-old exactly three months ago, is making his eighth start on the Staysure Tour and teed it up this morning fresh off his season-best finish, a tied-third place showing at the Scottish Senior Open.
“I’m still learning things on the Staysure Tour,” he said. “I took quite a break. I took four years off after I retired from the European Tour but I’m getting more into the tournament mode again. The last start was good in Scotland, and I just have to get — rounds like today — more of these in and really start shooting low scores again.”
The seven under par 65 marks Brier’s lowest round on the over-50s circuit and now gives the man ranked 28thon the Order of Merit an added boost heading into the weekend.
“The goal at the beginning of the season was to finish in the top 20 on the Order of Merit, so I need a few more good results,” he said. “The money is quite good now and you need over 100,000 to finish top 20 and that’s my goal still. I probably need a win to achieve that, but I’ve had a good start this week and I’m really looking forward to the next two days, and then hopefully I can qualify for the finals.”
The quality score from Brier is doubly impressive considering the fast and undulating greens the players are facing this week at Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club.
“The course is gorgeous, really,” he said. “These are the best greens we’ve had so far this year. They’re lightning fast and it’s really tough to control the speed on the long putts. That’s why you have to accept the odd three-putt or so, but they’re so pure that if you put a ten-footer on line it stays there, the ball is not wobbling or anything.”
Alone in second place is Spaniard Santiago Luna, who went bogey-free on his way to carding a five-under-par 67.
One shot back of Luna on four under par are a trio of players, England’s Peter T Wilson, Magnus P Atlevi of Sweden, and Welsh World Golf Hall of Fame Member Ian Woosnam.