Thursday, May 13, 2010

Handa Senior Masters

Longmuir leads by four after
nine-under-par 64

Bill Longmuir posted a stunning nine under par 64, his lowest round to par in eight years on the European Senior Tour, to take a four shot lead in the opening round of the Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
The Anglo-Scot, pictured by Andy Forman, carded seven birdies and an eagle in a flawless display at Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire, England, to open up a commanding lead over compatriot Ross Drummond, English pair Roger Chapman and Carl Mason and Australian David Merriman, who all signed for rounds of 68.
After opening with a birdie on the first hole, Longmuir picked up two more shots before the turn and then turned on the style on the way in, with an eagle three on the 509 yard par five 11th hole followed by a further four birdies in a six under par back nine of 30. His 64 was the joint lowest 18 hole total on the Senior Tour this season and the lowest round to par, one shot lower than Boonchu Ruangkit’s opening round in the Chang Thailand Senior Masters presented by ISPS.
It represents a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the 56 year old, who could only finish 61st in his the previous Senior Tour event, the Berenberg Bank Masters in South Africa. He said: “I’ve had a really bad run over the last 18 months where nothing really has happened for me. I had a little spark in the middle of last season but it’s been horrible. “My last two tournament scores were 87 and 84 in South Africa which gives you some idea of what I’ve been going through.
“I went to the United States last week to stay with a pal of mine, who used to play on Tour. He got some form out of me last year when I had a few top ten finishes. He has helped me considerably and has restored my faith in my swing and my short game.
“I was always looking for the perfect strike all the time but today it just happened and felt easy. I started making putts which is always the key. It’s my first time at Stapleford Park but obviously I like it. It seems to suit me. My course management was good today. I played steady and I got the rewards. I’ll take the next two days as they come and I’ll just keep playing the same way.”
Mason’s season had also been yet to get into full swing after he retired with shin splints in his only appearance so far in 2010 in South Africa. However, after also spending the past month America, the Senior Tour’s all time leading money winner appears to be back on track, carding six birdies and just the single bogey.
“I was pleasantly surprised today,” said the Englishman. “I’m lacking in tournament play but I played a lot out golf out in Florida. It’s different when you get that pencil in your hand though. “At nearly 7,000 yards this is a long course and it has a couple of fiddly holes but I didn’t make any mistakes and I putted well. I had a couple of twos on the card on the back nine, which always helps.”
Conversely his compatriot Chapman has been in fine form so far in 2010, with three top ten finishes to date, and marked the Senior Tour’s first visit to his homeland this season with another superb round.
“I started off with a good front nine, with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and seventh holes but I did miss two birdie opportunities on the two par threes, so I could have been out in under 30,” he said.
“I hit out it of bounds on the 11th which gave me a six but overall I played nicely. I’ll take two more rounds like that and I’d be very happy.”
Thailand’s Runagkit made a solid start in his attempt at capturing a record-equalling fourth consecutive Senior Tour victory, signing for a three under par 70. Order of Merit leader Ruangkit, who celebrates his 54th birthday today, began his round with three birdies in four holes but dropped shots on the sixth and eighth holes before two further birdies on the back nine.
His score was matched by Englishman John Harrison, winner of the Senior Tour Qualifying School in Portugal last November, who enjoyed a fine debut just six days after turning 50.
Former PGA Championship winner Andrew Oldcorn, another Senior Tour debutant, posted a one over par 74, while Ryder Cup Captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam carded rounds of 75 and 74 respectively.

Par 73. 6,909yd

64 Bill Longmuir.

68 David Merriman, Ross Drummond, Carl Mason, Roger Chapman.

69 Katsuyoshi Tomori.

Other Scots scores:

74 Fraser Mann, Andrew Oldcorn.

75 Sam Torrance, John Chillas.

76 Mike Miller.

77 Gordon Brand junior

78 Martin Gray.



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