European Senior Tour Order of Merit leader Clark Dennis will take a commanding three shot lead into the weekend after the first round of the inaugural Farmfoods European Senior Masters.
The American, who joined the Senior Tour earlier this year after earning his card at Qualifying School, is a two-time winner in 2017 and knows that victory at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club will secure the John Jacobs Trophy for topping the Order of Merit.
The 51 year old fired a six under par round of 66, which included seven birdies and an eagle, cancelling out three bogeys.
“I’m very pleased with the way I played today,” said Dennis, who won the Dutch Masters a fortnight ago. “I hit the ball nicely, made some putts and had a couple of good breaks; I holed one out from the fairway too and that always helps. Six under was a little more than I would have expected.
“I didn’t see myself shooting six under today, but I was able to get out there and put together a good score.
“Conditions will be difficult tomorrow, so it’ll be a battle out there. I just need to go out there and play my game.”
In second place on three under par is Paul Eales, winner of the 2016 Scottish Senior Open. The Englishman carded four birdies and, despite a bogey on the 18th hole, the 54 year old was pleased with his round.
“The conditions were trying today, but it was a good day,” said Eales. “I didn’t make as many mistakes as I have been doing. I almost got away with it if not for the last hole.
“It’s great to be playing in England again and we’ve had the crowds come out today to support us too.”
In a share of third place on two under par are Peter Fowler, Miguel Angel Martin and 2014 Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley.
One of three golfers on one under par, 1993 Ryder Cup player Peter Baker was pleased with his start to life on the Senior Tour. The Englishman is making his debut this week after turning 50 earlier this month.
“I was a bit nervous to start off with to be honest,” said Baker. “I struggled to get into the flow of things, but I played well on the back nine and gave myself a few chances. It’s been a good day and it’s nice to get back into it.”
Scores after round one:
66 C Dennis (USA) ,
69 P Eales (Eng) ,
70 P Fowler (Aus) , P McGinley (Irl) , M Martin (Esp) ,
71 S Dodd (Wal) , A Sherborne (Eng) , P Baker (Eng) ,
72 R Chapman (Eng) , T Thelen (USA) , P Golding (Eng) , J Carriles (Esp) , S Brown (Eng) , J Sandelin (Swe) , G Brand Jnr (Sco),
73 B Conser (USA) , A Oldcorn (Sco) , G Marks (Eng) , R Drummond (Sco) , G Wolstenholme (Eng) , C Monasterio (Arg) , J Kingston (RSA) , M Farry (Fra) , A Bossert (Sui) ,
74 P Linhart (Esp) , C Mason (Eng) , M Mouland (Wal) , D Smyth (Irl) , I Woosnam (Wal) , B McGovern (Irl) , P Walton (Irl) , J Sallat (Fra) , S Richardson (Eng) ,
75 R Rafferty (Nir) , C Williams (RSA) , G Rusnak (USA) ,
76 G Brand (Eng) , P Wilson (Eng) , S Luna (Esp) , S Tinning (Den) , S Torrance (Sco) , E Darcy (Irl) ,
77 P Wesselingh (Eng) , B Lane (Eng) , C Suneson (Esp) , M Mackenzie (Eng) ,
78 C Rocca (Ita) , J Robinson (Eng) , M Atlevi (Swe) ,
79 G Emerson (Eng) , D Gilford (Eng) ,
80 D Russell (Eng) ,
81 A Franco (Par) ,
82 S McAllister (Sco)