Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Fraser and Bell in the Seniors' mix at Formby

John Fraser, the Royal Burgess Society captain, and Downfield’s Graham Bell were just a shot off the lead after the first round of the Seniors Amateur Championship at Formby, Lancashire
American Randy Haag and Swede Stefan Lindberg shared the top spot on 71, five better than the defending champion, Patrick Tallent.  
Fraser, who played shinty for Newtonmore in his youth, had four birdies and four bogeys in a 72 and Bell had three birdies and three bogeys.
Both have played for the Scotland senior amateur team, and are aiming to end a run of six successive American winners of the title. 
“I didn’t really play golf seriously at all before the seniors,” said Fraser, who is a former head teacher at Craigmount High School in Edinburgh.
Bell is a many times Downfield and Camperdown Club Champion. “I was pleased with the score,” he said. “It was a really tough day. Once you got out towards the seas the wind was gale force. Really brutal.”
Haag has twice won the top amateur prize - the silver medal - at the British Senior Open. He claimed the honour at Carnoustie in 2010 and again the following year at Walton Heath.
But he was distraught 12 months ago at this Championship at Royal County Down when a mix-up over a storm delay led to his premature exit. 
“I played two holes before the weather stopped play,” explained the six-time North Californian Player of the Year. “I went back to my hotel and when I called about the restarting time I misunderstood the information. 
“The next call was from the R and A to tell me I had been disqualified. It was the most miserable feeling. So I am very excited to be back over here again.”
Before his trip to the UK, Haag won a qualifying event for the US Seniors’ Open, and his impressive form continued with “one of the best ball striking rounds of my life.”
He hit 17 greens in the tricky conditions, and could have shot even lower if he had fared better on the greens. He accumulated 36 putts. 
Lindberg opened with two birdies in the first three holes - he nearly eagled the long third - and had a strong finish with more gains at the 15th and 17th. 
The Helsingborg golfer missed last year’s Championship due to a back injury, but now he is fully fit and ready to try and emulate Open Champion Henrik Stenson and become a Swedish winner on a British links this summer. 
Moor Park’s John Ambridge joined Fraser and Bell on 72. He was in the same Hertfordshire teams as Nick Faldo and Ken Brown and qualified as an amateur to play in two Open Championships. 
The highlight of his round was a chip-in eagle at the long 17th. His putt for birdie and a tie for the lead lipped out at the last. 





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