Australian legend Robert Allenby has taken no time to adjust to life on the over-50s circuit, firing an opening round of 3-under 67 to sit two shots off the lead at The Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club in England.
It was a strong start for a number of Aussies in Europe overnight with Bryden Macpherson sitting in a tie for fifth in his first round on the European Tour in Europe in more than seven years while a change of caddie did the trick for Sarah Kemp at The Aumundi Evian Championship in France, two shots off the lead in a tie for eighth.
Although it has been 20 years since he was last at the venue, Allenby’s history at Sunningdale came in handy for his Champions Tour debut, an eagle at the par-5 14th the highlight as he trails 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke and South African James Kingston by two strokes.
Level with Allenby at 3-under and in a share of sixth place is fellow Australian Peter Fowler who began his opening round with two straight birdies, picking up shots at nine, 14 and 17 to go with bogeys at eight and 15.
One stroke back is Victorian David McKenzie who was fighting for top spot on the leaderboard until a double bogey at the par-4 17th saw him finish the day at 2-under 70 and in a share of 14th.
The Evian Championship is the fourth of the women’s major of the year and some improved results with the putter and a familiar face on the bag has Sarah Kemp well placed to record her best finish in a major.
The 35-year-old’s best result in a major to date is a tie for 37th at the 2014 Women’s PGA Championship but an opening round of 4-under 67 puts her two strokes off the lead and in a tie for eighth.
With her regular caddie unavailable, Kemp enlisted the services of her wife Lisa Cornwell and the pair proved to be a potent combination, combining for three birdies, one bogey and an eagle at the par-5 ninth, her final hole of the day.
“She caddied for me in a couple US Open qualifiers, a couple of tournaments in Australia and an LET event in France so it’s not our first rodeo, which is nice,” said Kemp.
“She knows how I work. She’s really just trying to keep me calm.
“She got the carry bag, so I made it easy for her. I did scare her with how hilly the place was, but to my surprise she said, ‘It’s actually not as bad as you made out.’ I was like, All right, I should have brought the big bag.”
West Australian Minjee Lee and Kiwi Lydia Ko are one shot back of Kemp in a tie for 11th at 3-under with Katherine Kirk, Su Oh and Stephanie Kyriacou all in need of a good second round after posting 2-over 73 in Round 1.
Playing the Cazoo Open at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales on a sponsor’s invitation, two-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner Bryden Macpherson made a triumphant return to mainland Europe with a round of 4-under 68 to sit three shots off the lead.
Not since the 2014 Open Championship has Macpherson played a European Tour event in Europe and hopes a strong performance this week will continue a career resurgence that has seen him climb almost 900 places in the Official World Golf Rankings this year.
“It’s been a little bit up and down ever since,” said Macpherson of his progression since winning the 2011 British Amateur.
“I’ve shown some flashes of showing up as a real golfer but now I’m a bit more set in my ways, I know what I’m doing a little bit more.
“Hopefully this will be the start of something nice.”
South Australian Wade Ormsby brushed off the disappointment of just missing out on his first Open Championship to match Macpherson’s 67 to share fifth place with Maverick Antcliff (69), Brad Kennedy (70), Scott Hend (71) and Deyen Lawson sitting inside the cut-line after one round.
On a day of hot scoring in the US Jamie Arnold’s opening round of 6-under 66 was only good enough for a share of 15th after one round at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship while Lucas Herbert is tied for 17th after Round 1 of the PGA TOUR’s 3M Open in Minnesota.