Former Champion Pierse shares the lead at Seniors Open Amateur
Six share the lead following the first round of the Seniors Open Amateur Championship on the Nicklaus-designed Machynys Peninsula course on the outskirts of Llanelli.
In unusually benign conditions six players fired scores of two-under-par 70 mostly in the early part of the day and no-one was able to break clear of the pack.
American Steve Rogers in the third match out was the first to post 70 on this 6652-yard layout, followed by Oldham’s Alan Squires, another American in Douglas Pool, Scotsman David Gardner and Irish duo Maurice Kelly and Arthur Pierse, the 2007 champion.
Kelly, a 62-year-old retired golf club manager who belongs to both Killeen and Naas was frustrated at not establishing a clear lead as he came to the last a par five considered a solid birdie opportunity actually three under par and he completely mishit his second shot and it landed in a lake in front of the green.
“I was counting my round as a 68 and forgot I still had a bit of golf to play. That is always a dangerous thing to do,” said Kelly, who secured a top-10 finish at Royal Portrush last year and came runner-up this season in the Spanish Seniors Championship.
In the end Kelly had to settle for a bogey six on the last and his was the fifth of the 70’s to be returned.
“I have been fighting a groin injury this year and only recently was able to use my driver properly so all in all I am happy with my round,” said the Irishman who knocked in several putts of between 10 and 15 feet which were crucial.
But the most remarkable 70 was produced by Gardner of Broomieknowe who recorded a rare albatross two on the home hole.
He was amazed when he saw his full-blooded second shot disappear into the hole. “I just could not believe it. I came to the last one over par and thought a birdie would be great to finish and then that happened.”
Pierse from Tipperary eagled the final hole while Rogers, Squires and Pool all finished with birdie fours.
The leaders go into the second round one stroke ahead of American Rick Woulfe who was steady throughout.
Defending champion Chip Lutz, the 57-year-old from Pennsylvania, kept himself well in the hunt with a 73 but was not entirely happy with his game.
“I played ok but the numbers could have been better. I made a slow start and had a couple of three putts. I also went in the water at the 8th but made a good up and down for a bogey,”said Lutz, who recently won the Silver Medal as top amateur in the Senior Open at Turnberry.
Also on the 73 mark are two of the favourites for the title, European seniors champion Adrian Morrow and former Walker Cup captain and Amateur Champion Garth McGimpsey.
Morrow had halves of 36 and 37, his only hiccup being a bogey six on the 13th while McGimpsey finished with a birdie four.
Following the second round on Thursday the top 60 players and ties go through to the final 18 holes on Friday.
Click here to view the scores from round 1.