By Trevor Peake ,AFP
TURNBERRY, Scotland — Bernhard Langer fired a 6-under par opening 64 on Thursday in his bid to add a second Senior British Open championship to the one he won at Carnoustie two years ago.
He picked up six birdies with putts of 12 feet, 15 feet, 18 feet and 16 feet at the par-4 second, third, 11th and 12th holes, and was on the two par-5s in two, and two-putted both from distance for birdies.
“I was very pleased with the way I played,” Langer said. “Played smart. Hit some good drives, good iron shots and sank a few putts. Maybe left a couple of putts out there as well.”
The Florida-based German holds a one-stroke lead over Mark McNulty of Ireland, with Americans Tom Lehman and Michael Allen among the chasing pack of six a further stroke back.
Zimbabwe-born McNulty, like Langer, played faultless golf with five birdies at the first, second and seventh on the way out and the 10th and 17th on the way home and no dropped shots.
Alongside Lehman and Allen were fellow Americans Dick Mast and Jay Don Blake, South African David Frost and Taiwan’s Chien Soon Lu.
Allen was having an impressive season on the Champions Tour, topping the money list with two wins this season.
“I played beautiful on the front nine, made a few mistakes in the middle then had a great finish,” said Allen, who eagled the par 5 17th and birdied the 18th to pick up three of his four strokes.
“Out here in a short-sleeved shirt in Scotland playing this wonderful course is as good as it gets,” he said.
Lehman opened with a bogey five at the first but then bagged six birdies, including twos at the short fourth and sixth holes, before dropping his only other shot with a bogey five at the 16th.
Mast was 3 under par after four holes, dropped one at the sixth before a birdie at the ninth took him to the turn in 32. He picked up two more birdies at the 11th and 14th, but then dropped strokes at 15 and 16 before birdying the last.
It was a similar story for Blake, who had three birdies on the way out and two on the way home dropping just one shot at the par four 12th, while Frost picked up four strokes in three holes when he birdied six, eagled seven and birdied eight to be out in 32.
Three players were on 67 and four more on 68, including American Lauren Roberts, who won the Senior British Open the last time it was at Turnberry in 2006.
Tom Watson, bidding for his fourth British Senior title and his second at Turnberry, was in a large group on 69.
He started his round with eight straight pars, bagged two birdies round the turn then dropped just one shot at the 13th before parring his way home.