Friday, September 04, 2015

 Monty's old college mate Thelen is out to finish ahead pof him for first time.

American Tim Thelen knew he was looking at a genuine world-class talent when a young and fresh-faced Colin Montgomerie arrived at Houston Baptist University on a golf scholarship in the early eighties.
More than two decades later, the 54 year old Minnesotan has his sights trained on his fellow college student of yesteryear after firing a 69 to share the first round lead in the Travis Perkins Masters over the Duke’s course at Woburn.
Thelen, who was joined late in the day at three under par by Anglo-Scot Bill Longmuir, has yet to finish ahead of Montgomerie in an event in which they have both teed off but, after posting a score four shots better than the former World Number Two, he has high hopes of reversing the trend this weekend.
Defending champion Montgomerie, chasing a third successive victory in the event, was undone by a double bogey 7 at the 14th where he required a penalty drop after driving into a bush. However, his opening round of 73 has not damaged his title hopes irreparably.
Thelen was two years ahead of Montgomerie at Baptist University, but recognised his talent immediately. He said: “It didn’t take long to realise what an incredible ball striker he was. I honestly think Colin is the best ball striker I’ve ever seen.
"He possibly wasn’t as strong with the putter, but he has proved over the years that when his striking is on then he can use that confidence to hole anything.”
Thelen was tied second in the Travis Perkins Masters last year – “a mere ten shots behind Monty” he joked – and played with the three-time Senior Major champion in the Russian Open Golf Championship the following week.
“Same result,” he added. “Although this time I finished in a share of third just four shots behind Colin. I haven’t managed to finish ahead of him yet, but I will be trying as hard as I can to turn that around over the next two days. 
"It’s my fifth time playing in this tournament and I love the course. I grew up on tough, tree-lined courses in Minnesota and Texas, and they seem to fit my eye.”
Thelen got to five under par after 12 holes, thanks to five birdies and no dropped shots, but the considerably more demanding back nine cost him shots at the 14th and 15th. In that respect, the American was not alone as a number of leading contenders faded in the closing stretch.
Longmuir, 62, decided to forego the last two editions of the Travis Perkins to undertake a commitment in France, was delighted to be back at Woburn, a course he loves deadly.
“I had to come back this year. It’s a joy to play here and I played really well today” he said. “You have to drive the ball well, and I did that apart from the final hole when I favoured the right side too much and went into the trees and had to hack out.”
The resulting 5 meant that Longmuir was unable to become the only player in the field not to register a bogey as the Duke’s Course played hard to get. At the end of a challenging first day, only 11 players were under par.
Playing together, Montgomerie and last week’s winner of the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open, Paul Broadhurst, both birdied the first two holes to sprint from the starting blocks. However, Montgomerie’s 7 cost him a sub-par score, while Broadhurst slipped to a 79.
The third member of that illustrious group, Roger Chapman, celebrated his return to British soil with a commendable 70 to be tied for second along with Lianwei Zhang, Pedro Linhart and Ross Drummond.
The two-time Senior Major Champion from 2012 admitted: “It’s great to be back home. I was due to play in America but the event was cancelled earlier in the season and I was pleased to return to Woburn after missing out in 2013 and 2014.
“I’ve played some scrappy golf this season but that was a very satisfactory start. I would have taken 70 before I teed off. This is an iconic Tour venue and it’s nice that my schedule enable me to come back.”
Par 72
69 T Thelen (USA) , B Longmuir (Sco) ,
70 R Drummond (Sco) , R Chapman (Eng) , P Linhart (Esp) , L Zhang (Chn) ,
71 P Eales (Eng) , S Luna (Esp) , P Fowler (Aus) , M Mackenzie (Eng) , K Tarling (Can) ,
72 A Franco (Par) , C Monasterio (Arg) , S McAllister (Sco) , P Walton (Irl) , J Rivero (Esp) , M Farry (Fra) , G Manson (Aut) , M Davis (Eng) , S Tinning (Den) , J Spence (Eng) , P Golding (Eng) , G Wolstenholme (Eng) , M Martin (Esp) , J Carriles (Esp) , C Mason (Eng) , M James (Eng) ,
73 A Forsbrand (Swe) , C Montgomerie  (Sco) , A Oldcorn (Sco) , N Job (Eng) , L Carbonetti (Arg), N Ratcliffe (Aus) , C Williams (RSA) , A Murray (Eng) , B Lane (Eng) ,
74 J Smith (USA) , J Gould (Eng) , P Wesselingh (Eng) , P Mitchell (Eng) , G Brand Jnr (Sco) ,
75 R Gibson (Can) , M Harwood (Aus) , S Torrance (Sco) , B Cameron (Eng) , A Sherborne (Eng) , A Bossert (Sui) , J Quiros (Esp) ,
76 G Bell (Eng), R Sabarros (Fra) , J Harrison (Eng), S Brown (Eng) , J Remesy (Fra) , T Elliott (Aus), G Rusnak (USA), P O'Malley (Aus) , M Mouland (Wal) ,
77 M Piñero (Esp) , D Smyth (Irl) , G Brand (Eng) , G Marks (Eng) , M Bianco (Ita) , G Ryall (Eng) , D O'Sullivan (Irl) , W Grant (Eng) ,
78 D Russell (Eng) , G Emerson (Eng) , R Rafferty (Nir) ,
79 T Johnstone (Zim) , P Broadhurst (Eng) , C Rocca (Ita) ,
85 V Garcia (Esp) , 
- Ends -



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