Langer leads after day one at Carnoustie

Bernhard Langer gets his four-under-par round of 67 underway today at Carnoustie.Two-time Masters Tournament Champion Bernhard Langer was tied for the lead as the first day of the 2010 Senior Open Championship came to a close. The 52-year-old shares the top of the leaderboard with American Jay Don Blake and Carl Mason of England after the trio signed for four-under-par, first-round totals of 67.

Having birdied the first, the German went on to reach the turn in 32 strokes, aided by a run of three consecutive birdies, starting from the seventh hole. On the inward nine, a birdie at 14 would immediately be countered by a bogey at the best, but nevertheless, Langer would post an impressive total, which is unlikely to be bettered by players still to come in.

“I said that it [Carnoustie] was the toughest links course. It’s close to being the toughest course,” explained Langer, whose playing partner today, five-time Open Champion Tom Watson, could only manage a three-over-par 74.

“I played very well. I kept the ball in play. I drove it pretty good. Hit a number of fairways. And when I didn’t hit a fairway I was either fortunate enough to get a reasonable lie or miss some trouble. I hit those shots out of the rough pretty good.”

Jay Don BlakeCo-leader Jay Don Blake, who in a long PGA Tour career earned a spot in the top-125 for 15 consecutive years, made his charge on the back-nine, having reached the turn at one under. Birdies at 10, 11, 13 and 17 had lifted Blake, 51, to five under par and into the outright lead. But a bogey at 18 ensures that it was an opening-round 67 for the man from Utah who has more than 35 top-10 finishes in Tour events.

“I hit a lot of good shots. I hit a lot of fairways and played some smart shots into the greens and made some putts here and there,” he said.

“It’s a golf course that you can’t get too aggressive with because everything runs into the pins so much. You can’t carry it to the flags, like we’re used to in America. I’ve had to learn a whole new game. It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s tough.

England’s Carl Mason led by one shot on two separate occasions during his opening round, before he eventually came home in 67. The 57-year-old Englishman, who has chalked up 23 wins on the European Seniors Tour since 2003, reached the turn in five-under-par 31 to edge in front of Langer and Blake, but a double-bogey six send him tumbling down the leaderboard.

Tom Watson, playing with Bernhard Langer, could only manage a three-over-par 74 today.Mason rallied however, birdieing the 12th and 14th to regain the lead, only to let it slip away again with a bogey on 15. The two-time European Tour winner parred the final three to post a score of four under par.

“It’s good to be back up there among them [the leaders],” he said. “The last few years I haven’t played so well in this event, so it’s nice to come here and perform like I know I can do.”

The USA’s Mark Wiebe and 2008 Senior Open Champion Bruce Vaughan both bogeyed the last to finish one stroke off the leaders in a tie for fourth, along with fellow Americans Dan Forsman and 1987 Masters Tournament Champion Larry Mize. The USA’s 2010 Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin and Sam Torrance, Europe’s Captain in 2002, returned two-under-par 69s. And 2009 Senior Open Champion Loren Roberts signed for a level-par 71.

1989 Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia, who teed-off in the final group on the Saturday of last week’s Open had a one-under-par 70. And 2009 Senior Open Champion Loren Roberts signed for a level-par 71. 

Full scores can be found here.