GERMANY’S Bernhard Langer is well and truly back to his relentless best, shooting a flawless 6-under 64 to lead the first round of the 2012 Senior British Open by a stroke at Turnberry.
Langer was the last man to win the Senior Open on Scottish soil two years ago but last year a thumb injury and subsequent surgery put a big dent in his blossoming senior golfing career.
The former world No.1 and two-time Masters Champion has been fighting back this year and narrowly missing out on a third Senior Major when he surrendered a four shot lead in the final round of the US Senior Open at Indianwood in Michigan a few weeks back.
“I’m very pleased with the way I played,” said Langer, 54, who won the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie and the US Senior Open at the Sahalee Country Club in 2010. “I played smart, played well, hit some good drives, good iron shots and made a few putts. I maybe even left a couple of putts out there, as well. But overall, it was very solid. No blemishes.”
Langer was one stroke in front of Ireland’s Mark McNulty (65), who opened with back-to-back birdies, with 1996 Open Champion Tom Lehman and fellow American Michael Allen among those shooting 66 on four under.
Senior and Fowler lurking
Australian duo Peter Senior and Peter Fowler were still well in contention at 2-under with both shooting 68’s.
Fowler went out in 31 with four unblemished birdies on the front but could only find pars on the back apart from bogeys on 12 and 13.
Senior also had a good start with birdies on 2, 6, 7 and 11 but there were bogeys on 8 and 16.
“It’s playing very long,” Langer said of Turnberry’s Ailsa course. “Someone said this course is playing longer than they played last week at The Open Championship.”
“But I like links golf. It’s just fun to hit off that kind of turf and you really have to think your way around some of these golf courses, not just hit driver, blast it away and find it and hit it again. That’s what makes it so much fun.”
Tom Watson made a satisfying return to Turnberry three years after almost winning The Open Championship at the age of 59.
The American, winner of Claret Jug over the Ailsa Course in 1977 as well as The Senior Open Championship in 2003, carded a one under par opening round 69 to claim bragging rights in his featured three-ball with Englishman Roger Chapman and Australian Greg Norman.
“It was a good start,” said Watson. “The golf course was there for the taking if you played some good shots. On the back nine, I got sloppy, but the front nine I played pretty well and I was happy with the way I started.”
After winning both the US Senior PGA Championship and US Senior Open Championship already this season, Chapman began his bid for the hat-trick of Senior Majors with a two over par 72, the same as Norman who won The 1986 Open Championship over the Ailsa Course.
Other Aussies in the field include Anthony Gilligan on 1-under and David Merriman and Graham Banister on even.
2012 Senior British Open TV Coverage
There is live overnight 2012 Senior British Open television coverage in Australia on Fox Sports with replays during the day.
1st Round: LIVE: Friday 2am – 4am; Replay: 3pm – 6pm.
2nd Round: LIVE: Saturday 1am – 4pm; Replay: 2pm – 3.30pm.
3rd Round: LIVE: Sunday 1am – 4am; Replay, 10.30am – 1pm.
Final Round: LIVE: Monday 1am – 4am; Replay, 3.30pm – 6.30pm.