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Foster and Moultrie among leaders at Ganton

Scotland’s Paul Moultrie set a goal for himself when he turned 45 - he would play in the R&A Senior Amateur Championship and play for Scotland when he turned 55. 

He had to wait a year for the second half of that goal because of Covid-19, but he’s living the dream this week at Ganton Golf Club on his debut appearance in the Senior Amateur.

Moultrie might just walk off with the trophy and the winner’s gold medal if he keeps playing the way he played in the opening round. He returned a level par 71 in tough, windy conditions to take the early lead in the clubhouse. 

Share of the lead

English players Richard Norton, Paul Wharton and Trevor Foster matched his score and share the lead. The quartet have a one-shot advantage heading into the second round. 

Foster is bidding for a second win in three years. The member of Pleasington Golf Club in Blackburn won the title at Royal Porthcawl in 2018.

Wharton might lead on his own if he’d managed to convert birdie putts on the last two holes. “I hit 17 greens today, and missed eight foot putts on the last two greens,” Wharton said.

Fantastic round

Moultrie’s friend and fellow Scot Niall Lamond, who played with Moultrie, was in no doubt about the way the plus two handicap Royal Troon member charted his way around Ganton. “That was a fantastic round of golf,” Lamond told Moultrie when they stepped off the 18th green.

Moultrie was modest enough to edit Lamond’s description.

“It was a good round of golf; it was a fantastic round of putting,” the 56 year old said. “I three putted 17 and that was the only blip. The greens are fantastic, they’re huge and I handled the long putts really well. 

“I set myself a goal when I was 45 that I would play for Scotland and play in the Senior Amateur when I turned 55. By being fortunate and a lot of hard work, a lot of tough days on the practice putting green, here I am.”

Reaching a goal

Moultrie realised part one of his goal when he represented Scotland in the 2019 Senior Home Internationals and the European Team Championships shortly after turning 55. Now its time to make the best of his first start in the Senior Amateur.

“I was looking forward to playing last year, but Covid took care of that. I’m just happy to be here competing in this great championship.”

The three-time Royal Troon club champion finished second to England’s Stephen Jensen in the recent Scottish Seniors Championship. He’s obviously hoping to go one spot better this week. 

“I was actually leading with four to play but I bogeyed and Stephen birdied, but I played well and it was great fun. Stephen’s a great player and deserved to win.”

Senior tour

Moultrie went through qualifying for the European Senior Tour twice after he turned 50.

“I didn’t go because I wanted to turn pro, I wanted to see how I got on, how I measured up to European Tour players,” he admitted. “Twice I missed by a shot, but I really enjoyed competing against the professionals. It gave me an idea of where my game was. I love playing with the pros, but that’s not my job. I love amateur golf. It gives me a buzz.”

He’ll get the ultimate buzz at Ganton this week if he becomes the first Scot since the late Charlie Green in 1996 to walk off with the trophy and the gold medal. That will certainly more than fulfil the goal he set on his 45th birthday.

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