Round One Report
Darren Clarke and James Kingston share the first round lead at The Senior Open Presented by Rolex after posting five under par rounds of 65 on a sun-baked opening day at Sunningdale Golf Club.
Northern Irishman Clarke is bidding for his first Senior Major Championship and the 2011 Open Champion got off to an excellent start, posting just a single bogey to share a the lead alongside Kingston, with defending champion Bernhard Langer one shot back in a three-way tie for third place with Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez and Welshman Stephen Dodd.
Clarke started well with four birdies on the front nine to make the turn in 31, before responding to his only dropped shot of the day at the par four 12th hole with back-to-back birdies, while Kingston got up and down from the greenside bunker for par on the 18th hole to keep the bogeys off the card and join the Northern Irishman atop the leaderboard.
Four-time Major Champion Ernie Els is one of seven players in a tie for sixth on three under par, alongside 2002 Ryder Cup player Phillip Price, of Wales, Australian debutant Robert Allenby and English amateur John Kemp.
A quartet of Ryder Cup Captains are among a group of ten players who share 14th place, with Thomas Bjørn, Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam all posting two under par opening rounds of 68.
Darren Clarke: “I think you’ve got to respect Sunningdale. You’ve got to play smart here. It’s important to hit it on the fairways, that can be any week, but I’ve played here enough to know that there’s certain flags that you go for and there’s certain flags that you don’t go for.
“And I played smart around here. I hit away from the flags to the middle of the greens and gave myself some chances, and kept giving myself chances there in the last few holes. Didn’t make anything at the end but just played smart. I think the winner is going to have to play smart this week.
“I’m hitting as far around here now as when I was playing here all the time. The equipment’s made it that distance-wise, on a great old course like Sunningdale, you would say it’s possibly in length, in terms of the length of the golf course, not really one you should play anymore but there’s still difficulty in hitting the shots.
“You still have to hit on the fairways and navigate on the greens and know them. Though technology has moved on, you still have to play. You have some wonderful players on the Champions Tour that can still play.”
James Kingston: “I came here, I feel like I’ve been a little unprepared. I was down with Covid and in hospital, so I don’t think my preparation coming into this week is exactly what I would have liked. But when you get to a place like this and you like the golf course, it seems to just sneak into your game, and I love way see out there. Like you say, it’s the kind of course, if you see the shots, then you can hit them.
“You sometimes forget to hit your shot. You keep looking at the scenery, those purple flowers with the green, and all the stripes in the fairways, it’s just a beautiful golf course. It’s one of the most prettiest golf courses I think I’ve ever played.”
Bernhard Langer: “I think my strength was my driving. I hit it pretty good off the tee and I hit some pretty good iron shots. Weakness was the putter. I had two three-putts early on and made my first putt on 16 and another one on 17 and I had a par save on 18. I wish I could have played a few more holes but I was just getting warmed up with the putter.
“This course hasn’t changed. I came here 40 years ago, maybe more than 40 years ago. But it’s the same. They added a couple tee boxes here and there, and everything else is fantastic, and there’s no need to change. This course is withstanding the test of time, as they say, and it’s perfect for us. I think there’s still a lot of for me, medium, even long irons. It’s a wonderful mixture of short par 4s and long par 4s. Looks innocent at times but it can grab.”
Ernie Els: “I’ve got to do some work. Short game was a bit untidy. A lot of things very untidy. So I’ve got to sharpen up. When I got it right, it was nice, and when I hit a fairway and had an iron shot – my irons are pretty sharp but just got to tidy it up. Putting okay. I love the golf course. The walk here is unbelievable. But I’ve got to get going.
“It’s a great walk. I used to get some invites from the members and come play with the members here quite a bit. We still live up a mile from here at Wentworth. It’s very much home for me. We’ve been here since 1998, so it’s a long time. Kids were born here and so forth. We moved to America but we have kept the house here.
“It very much feels like a home game to me. Played a lot of golf around here. Saw my buddies, Sam Torrance out there on the terrace there. I’ve had a lot of good times at this club.”
Colin Montgomerie: “I drove the ball well. I’ve been driving the ball particularly straight. It’s not long. Never has been that long, but it’s straight. That’s key around here. I hit every fairway today and every fairway yesterday in the Pro-Am. It’s important.
“Although you might just miss the fairway, you’re in the semi. You’re guessing how far it’s going to go; is it going to release on the greens, is it not. At least you know off the fairway what it’s going to do. I might not be long off the tee but I’m straight, and that’s key.”
Round One Scores
65 D CLARKE (NIR), J KINGSTON (RSA),
66 R GONZALEZ (ARG), B LANGER (GER), S DODD (WAL),
67 R ALLENBY (AUS), P FOWLER (AUS), E ELS (RSA), P PRICE (WAL), J KEMP (AM) (ENG), J KELLY (USA), J COCERES (ARG), W SHORT JR (USA),
68 J REMESY (FRA), I WOOSNAM (WAL), T BJ?RN (DEN), C MONTGOMERIE (SCO), T LEVET (FRA), D PRIDE (USA), P WILSON (ENG), M GOGEL (USA), T LEHMAN (USA), D MCKENZIE (AUS),
69 S MICHEEL (USA), M JIM?NEZ (ESP), P EALES (ENG), D COPSEY (ENG), D OLSEN (USA), D SHACKLADY (ENG), P MCGINLEY (IRL), P BROADHURST (ENG), J SANDELIN (SWE), J SLUMAN (USA), W AUSTIN (USA),
70 M RIDLEY (ENG), G ORR (SCO), S HENDERSON (SCO), J FURYK (USA), T JAIDEE (THA), S PAREL (USA), M MARTIN (ESP), K TANIGAWA (USA), S BERTSCH (USA), T PERNICE JR (USA), M NAKAYAMA (JPN), W CHAPMAN (USA),
71 T PETROVIC (USA), J OLAZ?BAL (ESP), R CHAPMAN (ENG), J CARRILES (ESP), P STANKOWSKI (USA), S BROWN (ENG), F QUINN (USA), M LONG (NZL), L BOND (WAL), A RAITT (ENG), D WALDORF (USA), R BEEM (USA), A CEJKA (GER), P GOLDING (ENG), J PAYNE (ENG), Y TSUKADA (JPN), C C?VA?R (FRA), S LITTLE (ENG), B SOWARDS (USA),
72 A OLDCORN (SCO), T HERRON (USA), C WILLIAMS (RSA), D FROST (RSA), C DENNIS (USA), J BICKERTON (ENG), M BRIER (AUT), T FOSTER (AM) (ENG), J SMITH (USA), A BOSSERT (SUI), S LUNA (ESP), J HAEGGMAN (SWE), S CIPA (ENG), D MORLAND IV (CAN), M MOULAND (WAL),
73 A CRERAR (SCO), R O’HANLON (ENG), G WOLSTENHOLME (ENG), M JAMES (ENG), D GILFORD (ENG), M MOLINA (ARG), P BAKER (ENG), P STREETER (ENG), C WHITELAW (RSA), S KENDALL (USA), M PROCTOR (WAL), E MCINTOSH (SCO), R GOMEZ (ARG), B LANE (ENG), R COCHRAN (USA), F LICKLITER (USA), G ELLIOTT (AM) (USA),
74 J PROCTOR (ENG), C DAVIS (AM) (USA), M FARRY (FRA), S BEBB (WAL), T SPENCE (ENG), M BOOTH (ENG), E CANONICA (ITA), K DUKE (USA), M MACKENZIE (ENG), H MAZZALUPI (USA), M NEWMAN (ENG),
75 M CAMPBELL (NZL), P LAWRIE (SCO), B WHITE (ENG), R WILLISON (ENG), M YOUNG (AM) (ENG), R TUDDENHAM (ENG), J VAN DE VELDE (FRA), G DAY (USA), S GREEN (ENG), G BOROS (USA), B CAMERON (ENG), S MCGREAL (ENG),
76 H RUDOLPH III (USA), A HILL (ENG), S BENNETT (ENG), N TURLEY (ENG), M DAVIS (ENG),
77 R KELLOCK (AM) (ENG), D WILSON (USA), I CLARKE (AM) (ENG), S GROMETT (ENG), S WILKINSON (WAL), G LACY (AM) (ENG), M ATLEVI (SWE), J WILLIAMSON (USA),
78 N CHEETHAM (ENG), J CHEETHAM (ENG),
79 J KING (ENG), P CHERRY (ENG), T BURLEY (AM) (ENG), A LAWRENCE (ENG), B ROYAK (AM) (USA),
80 D RAY (ENG), G EMERSON (ENG),
82 A OATES (AM) (ENG),
83 L STANFORD (ENG),