Thursday, August 27, 2015

             David Russell in action at Archerfield Links today (picture by courtesy of Getty Images (c)
D J Russell's grand designs bear fruit
Course architect D J Russell made the most of his local knowledge as the Englishman carded a two under par 70 to share the first round lead with Peter O’Malley and Gary Marks at the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open over his own Fidra course at Archerfield Links today.
Russell raced to the turn in four under par 32 before dropping two shots coming home to tie with O’Malley and Marks, one shot ahead of Carl Mason, Gary Rusnak, Graeme Bell, Mark Mouland, Gordon Manson, Tim Thelan, Pedro Linhart and leading Scot Stephen McAllister.
Debutant Paul Broadhurst was part of the large group of players tied in 12th place on level par 72 but it was a day of mixed fortunes for defending champion Mark Davies who had a hole-in-one with a nine iron on the 151-yard par three 13th but stuttered to a four over par 76 that left him languishing well down the leaderboard in a share of 35th place.
“It was a strange experience to play competitively around here,” said Russell, whose last of two Senior Tour titles came at the French Riviera Masters back in 2012.
“I don’t think I’ve marked a card here before. I enjoyed it but it was a bit daunting to say the least. I have to admit I was a bit nervous at the start. I would imagine there was a certain amount of anticipation locally and you don’t want to embarrass yourself round your own golf course.

" I’ve still got the opportunity to do that over the next few days but at least I can sleep well tonight knowing I’ve broken par.
“It was a hell of a test,” he added. “They were kind with a few of the tees today but the greens were a bit awkward and the wind was very strong.
“I hacked it down the first but managed to make par and then hit a really good drive down the second and made eagle which settled me down a bit.”
Marks is a Senior Tour rookie but he finished tied sixth last time out at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany and maintained that sort of form with a flawless inward half of 33 which included birdies on the 12th, 14th, and 16th.
In fact he had a great chance to grasp the lead on his own but lipped out from eight feet for a birdie four on the 518-yard par five closing hole. 
“It was tough out there,” said the English PGA professional who is based at the World of Golf near Wimbledon. “The wind was strong. It was also gusting and it didn’t relent from start to finish “It didn’t take much to hit a shot that got you in a lot of trouble.
“It’s always good to start well. There are only about ten or 11 players under par but there’s a lot more within two or three shots so it’s too early to get excited.
“It’s great to have a good platform. I had a good finish last time out in Germany and that helped make me fell a bit more comfortable. I wouldn’t say I’m acclimatised to life out here yet but I think I’m getting there.
“I played the Challenge Tour for four or five years. I played the Asian Tour. I’ve been on the Sunshine Tour and in all sorts of remote places all over Africa. I suppose you could say I’ve spent a lifetime trying to make a breakthrough and after 30 years that’s what I’m still trying to do.”
O’Malley is much better-known to golf fans in Europe and as a former Scottish Open winner he has many warm memories of his regular trips to the Home of Golf.
The Australian started his round on the tenth and was level par after ten holes before he eagled the second after hitting a seven iron to 20 feet from the hole. He went on to birdie the fifth but then dropped a shot at the short eighth to drop back in to a share of first place.
“I was one of those grinding days” said the three-time European Tour winner. “I’m trying a new putting grip this week and it seemed to work. I decided to go left hand down and it seemed to help me hit the putts a lot more solid. I holed out really well which is what you’ve got to do in this weather.
“I don’t know if I should tell you guys this but I also hit the short putts with my eyes shut. I have done for about six years. I line it up and then close my eyes just before I take it away. I have to. I got to the stage I couldn’t take the putter away so I had to try something. It’s worked because I certainly make a lot more than I miss.”
The record-breaking 25-time European Senior Tour winner Carl Mason also made a major change to his putting technique as he carded a 71 that left him in a share of fourth place.
“It was tricky but the course played well,” said the 1994 Scottish Open champion. “Today marked my first outing with a short putter for about 20 years and I putted very well. I putted so badly at the Senior British Open at Sunningdale that I thought I had to try something.
“I knew I’d have to change for next year so I thought I might as well bite the bullet and do it now. I reckon the last time I used a short putter competitively was 1995 so it’s been a while.
"I thought it might feel strange to start with but it didn’t. I’m using a counter-balanced putter and it feels great. I’m really pleased with it.”     


70 G Marks (Eng) , D Russell (Eng) , P O'Malley (Aus) ,
 71 S McAllister (Sco) , M Mouland (Wal) , G Bell (Eng) , C Mason (Eng) , T Thelen (USA) , G Rusnak (USA) , G Manson (Aut) , P Linhart (Esp) ,
 72 G Brand Jnr (Sco) , K Tarling (Can) , P Broadhurst (Eng) , B Longmuir (Sco) , M Farry (Fra) , R Gibson (Can) , D Smyth (Irl) , R Drummond (Sco) ,
 73 C Monasterio (Arg) , S Luna (Esp) , P Wesselingh (Eng) , W Grant (Eng) , A Bossert (Sui) ,
 74 L Zhang (Chn) , P Fowler (Aus) , G Wolstenholme (Eng) , P Eales (Eng) , P Golding (Eng) , J Quiros (Esp) , P Walton (Irl) ,
 75 B Cameron (Eng) , M James (Eng) , C Williams (RSA) ,
 76 M Martin (Esp) , M Davis (Eng) , J Gould (Eng) , A Murray (Eng) ,
 77 A Oldcorn (Sco) , B Lane (Eng) , A Sherborne (Eng) , N Job (Eng) , J Remesy (Fra) , N Ratcliffe (Aus) , S Brown (Eng) , J Harrison (Eng) , R Sabarros (Fra) , A Forsbrand (Swe) ,
 78 T Elliott (Aus) , P Mitchell (Eng) , S Torrance (Sco) , R Rafferty (Nir) , D O'Sullivan (Irl) ,
79 M Harwood (Aus) ,
80 M Mackenzie (Eng) ,
81 S Tinning (Den) , J Carriles (Esp) ,
82 G Brand (Eng) ,
84 B Marchbank (Sco) ,
88 M Piñero (Esp) ,



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