In-form Australian Peter Fowler picked up where he left off in Jersey as he galloped to a share of the lead with English duo Carl Mason and Gary Emerson and France’s Jean Pierre Sallat at the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship.
Fowler, fresh from his victory in the Channel Islands last week, carded a flawless three-under-par 68 over the Lee Westwood Colt Course at Close House to put another marker down.
Emerson, seeking his first Senior Tour victory, joined the Antipodean shortly afterwards before Mason, a three-time winner of the championship and the Tour’s most decorated player, and Sallat joined them late in the afternoon after a sun-kissed summer’s day in Northumberland.
Fowler, who celebrated his 56th birthday, opened his bid for back-to-back victories with a birdie on the par-five first, his only net gain on the front nine, before adding to his tally at the par four 14th and par five 16th.
“You can’t tweak every course, but the way it is set up is really good here,” he said.
“I started well. I had a really good drive off the first, that ran up a long way and then I hit a five iron to two foot for a birdie. You settle in to the round quicker after a start like that. I had a couple of birdies towards the end to finish nicely. I had a couple of long putts but managed to get par on them.
“On the 18th I was 100ft away which is always a bit dodgy on any hole, so it was hard to get close to ten foot from that range. But it was nice to finish with a par from there because it will cause problems.”
Emerson, starting on the 10th, opened his round with a birdie on the 11th and added another at the 16th which cancelled out the bogey on 14 to turn in 34.
His back nine was much more productive with birdies at the first, sixth and eighth with the only blot coming at the fifth for his 68.
“I played poorly last week, my attitude wasn’t very good, this week hopefully I can carry on like I started today,” he said.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where I end up. If I get a chance at the end of the week then all well and good.
“It’s a very tricky course, in very good condition, and a lot of patience is needed. I’m pleased as I played solid and putted a lot better than I did last week.
“I just tried to play fairly conservatively and just get the ball into position and try and get somewhere on the green and then walk to the next.”
Mason, got off to a flyer with three birdies in his first four holes. His progress was checked with a bogey at the sixth but he added another birdie at the eight to be three-under at the turn.
He slipped back with another dropped shot at the 13, but coolly slotted home a birdie on the difficult 18th to cap a fine start to the week.
“I didn’t know what to expect really as I’ve only played the course in the pro-am and luckily I remembered where I should hit it and where not to hit it and got off to a great start,” said Mason, a winner of 25 European Senior Tour titles.
“I holed some nice putts – three in a row – and I was three-under after four which was a shock, a nice shock. I hit it steady all the way through and I was pleased with that.
“That’s a tough hole (the 18th). You can hit a good shot there and go through the green and I was making sure I didn’t go through. It’s just a good finishing hole, a good tough par three and the birdie was nice to finish.”
Sallat, in the penultimate group of the day, began at the 10th with a bogey and made spectacular inroads with an eagle three at the par five 16th.
He then had nine pars in a row before closing birdie, birdie on the tricky eighth and ninth to make it a four-way tie at the top.
A tight-knit leaderboard sees Dane Steen Tinning, who was forced to withdraw in Jersey last week with back spasms, Austrian Gordon Manson, England’s Peter Scott and DJ Russell, the 2010 champion, Spain’s Miguel Angel Martin and Argentinian Jorge Berendt a shot further back after two-under-par 69s.
Matfen Hall PGA Professional John Harrison is among a clutch of eight players, including former Ryder Cup player Phillip Walton, on one-under-par.
A double bogey at the 18th – his last – cost Harrison a share of the overnight lead after he overcooked his tee shot.
He said: “I was right in between clubs on the tee. I had 169 yards and I wanted to hit seven iron, but all the trouble is short. So I hit a six and went up against the wall. I had a cone just behind my ball and I couldn’t move it, it was fixed in the ground.
“I left my chip up the bank, but I knew I couldn’t chip it past because you are in the water. It was disappointing but I can’t be too displeased. It was just the way I finished which leaves a sour taste.”
ISPS HANDA PGA SENIORS CHAMPIONSHIP at Close House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 11-14.
|1=||68 (-3)||Peter Fowler (Aus)|
|Gary Emerson (Eng)|
|Carl Mason (Eng)|
|Jean Pierre Sallat (Fra)|
|5=||69 (-2)||Steen Tinning (Den)|
|Gordon Manson (Aut)|
|DJ Russell (Eng)|
|Miguel Angel Martin (Spa)|
|Peter Scott (Eng)|
|Jorge Berendt (Arg)|
Full list of scores, entries and event information can be found at: http://pgagbi.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgagbi15/event/pgagbi15299/index.htm
for more information on the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship
For further information please contact Tournament press officer Lee McLaughlan on 07533 739260 or email email@example.com
ISSUE DATE: 11 June 2015
About The PGA
The PGA was formed in 1901 and is the world’s oldest professional golfers’ association. Based at Centenary House at The Belfry, the PGA has 7,500 members including 1,500 working overseas in 70 different countries. The PGA is one of golf’s leading bodies and committed to growing and developing the game nationally and internationally through its academies and the expertise of its professionals. The PGA, in conjunction with Samuel Ryder and The PGA of America, established the Ryder Cup Match and is the trustee of the Ryder Cup trophy.
About ISPS HANDA
ISPS is a ‘General Incorporated Association’ based in Tokyo. The organisation was founded by Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world. ISPS has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf. ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s commercial and philanthropic investment in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. For further information visit www.ispsgolf.com