American Woody Austin scored four birdies in the last eight holes to take a one-shot lead into the second round of the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Carnoustie.
Austin, who has three victories this season on the US Champions Tour, was two under par after the first five holes but bogeyed the ninth and tenth holes to move back to level par.
He then carded birdies on the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th holes to move ahead of a group of seven players who sit one shot back after carding first rounds of 69.
“I got off to a great start in that I made a huge putt on the first,” said Woody. “I made a 35-footer from just off the green, which obviously got me in a good frame of mind.
“I was hitting some good shots but not hitting it really close to the hole. Unfortunately, I three-putted the ninth and then I hit a really bad drive on ten into really deep stuff. So back-to-back bogeys stalled my run and put me at even par.
“I got back to three under and was feeling pretty good. Fortunately, after that, my golf swing showed up and I hit some really good shots. The 16th was nice, obviously. You always want to sneak ahead of everybody or at least get up there.”
Trailing Austin by a shot are compatriots Tom Byrum, Joe Durant, Mark O’Meara and Scott McCarron. European Senior Tour members Peter Fowler and Esteban Toledo, and Carlos Franco, brother of Angel Franco, make up the seven golfers bracketed at three under par.
Toledo was five under par going into the final two holes, but consecutive bogeys meant he finished with a first round 69.
“I played well, hit the ball straight most of the time and I made a lot of putts,” said Toledo. “I took advantage of the par fives and I birdied nine, which is probably the toughest hole out there.
“I knew it was going to be tough to get to five under and then 17 and 18 happened, but that’s golf. There’s a long way still to go and it’s just the beginning. I’m very excited to be here in Scotland.”
No fewer than ten golfers are poised to pounce a shot further back, all tied for ninth place on 70, including Swedish pair Magnus P Atlevi and Jesper Parnevik, and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez.
“The conditions were perfect,” said Jiménez. “Under par is good for this course. I was struggling in the middle of the round with my putter and then I holed a couple of good putts.
“I feel positive for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. I feel like I’m hitting the ball well and I hope I can work on the greens the same way as I worked the last four or five holes.”
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