Philip Walton is the best of the Irish at the Farmfoods European Senior Masters but he finds himself well down the field after his first round efforts.
Walton returned an opening 75 against the leading 66 of Tournament Host Peter Baker who produced a stunning display, including a five-under par back nine to hold the first round lead at the Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club.
Ireland’s other representative, Des Smyth was one shot adrift of Walton after a 76 and both Irishmen have plenty of work to do if they are to contend.
As for Baker, the Englishman leads by one shot from American Qualifying School graduate Dan Olsen, who carded a solitary bogey in his otherwise flawless five under par round of 67.
Baker, now in his third year of hosting the tournament, admits helping to run a successful event is the main goal of the week, with playing good golf coming as an added bonus.
“I enjoy doing the hosting duties, it’s great to support the event really,” he said. “We played with Eric Herd today, the Farmfoods guy, and he really enjoyed it.
“That’s the main thing really; get the event going, have a good event and it’s a bonus if you play well.
“It has been a good day today, it’s been quite warm as well. There’s not been much wind at all, so it has been a good scoring day. The course is in great condition so if things go right for you, it’s good to have a good round and get off to a good start.”
The 51-year-old played alongside friend and former World Number One Ian Woosnam in today’s opening round and after getting off to a slow start, his round burst into life after making the turn.
“It’s always good playing with Woosie,” he said. “We go back a long way and the crowds have been brilliant today. I had a lot of support so overall, it’s been a very good day.
“Right from the word go, I hit a great second shot into the first hole to about three feet. That got me off to a great start, but I played a little bit in and out on the front nine.
“Then on the back nine, I made a great birdie on ten, three putted on 11 but from then on, I never missed a shot. I’m delighted. It was great to finish with an eagle on 17 and then a nice par on the last. It was all really good. The back nine was really strong.”
Olsen, playing in the first group of the day, carded two birdies during his front nine and picked up three further shots on the back nine to sit one stroke off the lead ahead of round two, while a group of five players are a shot further back on four under par.
Among those in a tie for third place is Austria’s Markus Brier, Welshman Stephen Dodd, Argentine Mauricio Molina, Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin and Englishman David Shacklady, who has two wins in his last three Staysure Tour events and will become the first man to win thrice in a season since Colin Montgomerie in 2015, should he triumph this week.
Scores after round one:
66 P Baker (Eng) ,
67 D Olsen (USA) ,
68 D Shacklady (Eng) , M Brier (Aut) , J Sandelin (Swe) , S Dodd (Wal) , M Molina (Arg) ,
69 T Levet (Fra) , J Remesy (Fra) , P Price (Wal) , P Lawrie (Sco) , P Broadhurst (Eng) , P Eales (Eng) , R Gomez (Arg) ,
70 J Carriles (Esp) , G Evans (Eng) , S Tinning (Den) , I Woosnam (Wal) , P Fowler (Aus) , M Farry (Fra) , C Williams (RSA) ,
71 J Kingston (RSA) , M Mackenzie (Eng) , T Thelen (USA) , G Marks (Eng) ,
72 J Lomas (Eng) , C Suneson (Esp) , A Bossert (Sui) , G Wolstenholme (Eng) , S Richardson (Eng) ,
73 J Quiros (Esp) , S Brown (Eng) ,
74 S Luna (Esp) , A Oldcorn (Sco) , J Haeggman (Swe) ,
75 G Emerson (Eng) , P Wesselingh (Eng) , P Walton (Irl) , M Atlevi (Swe) , D Gilford (Eng) , P Streeter (Eng) , J Coceres (Arg) , M Mouland (Wal) , M Martin (Esp) , C Dennis (USA) ,
76 P Golding (Eng) , S Little (Eng) , P Wilson (Eng) , D Smyth (Irl) ,
78 M Reynard (Eng) , N Job (Eng) ,
79 A Sherborne (Eng) ,
82 C Rocca (Ita) ,
83 N Sweet (Eng)