Scots set the pace at Stoke by Nayland

JOHN Chillas of Glenbervie leads the field after an eight-under-par 64 in the opening round of the PGA Seniors Championship on the immaculate Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland yesterday.

JOHN Chillas of Glenbervie leads the field after an eight-under-par 64 in the opening round of the PGA Seniors Championship on the immaculate Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland yesterday.

Chillas, six under at the turn, added two more birdies at the 14th and 17th to end one shot ahead of fellow Scotsman and holder Sam Torrance.

Conditions were ideal for scoring with the greens true and receptive. Torrance was giving an exhibition the first time he had played the course until he dropped a shot at the final par-three hole over the lake.

Torrance played the shot of the day at the 10th. His drive was uncomfortably close to the trees alongside the lake on the right of the fairway. A bogey seemed inevitable until he conjured up a marvellous recovery that curled round the trees and left the ball on the heart of the green.


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There was a sizeable crowd to watch some classy play. In the morning Irishman Eamonn Darcy went four under after an eagle at the fifth but he was overhauled by David J Russell, who was one of six players on five under just three shots off the lead.

Nick Job was leader in the clubhouse for a while. His tee shot at the 18th hit the grandstand but he managed to save par from the dropping zone.

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Bill Longmuir seems to be playing as consistently in senior events as at any time in his career. Longmuir, who won the East Anglian Open at Bury St Edmunds in 1977, could well claim the PGA Seniors crown on Monday.

It's an international leaderboard with Tony Johnstone from Zimbabwe, Guiseppe Cali from Italy and Gery Watine from France all on five under par.

The long-hitting New Zealander Simon Owen was impressing the gallery and, together with Argentinian Luis Carbonetti, is among those on four under.

It was a successful day for Frank Hill of Thorpeness, a seasoned campaigner in seniors events, who was two under par after three holes. He sank a 20-foot putt from just off the green at the second and followed up with another birdie at the short downhill par three third.

Hill, chairman of Suffolk PGA, was in the same three-ball as entertaining South African Jeff Hawkes. Hill held his game together well and ended one under par with every chance of making the cut today.

He ended level with such illustrious rivals as former Ryder Cup star Manuel Pinero, Australian Noel Ratcliffe and Carl Mason, who started among the favourites to win this event. A dropped shot at the par-five 16th was frustrating for Hill.

Hill said: “The greens were marvellous and the course has really matured since I won the East Anglian Open here in 1981. It is a credit to all concerned.”

Robin Mann of Felixstowe Golf Range but announced on the tee as representing Halesworth Golf Club, would have matched Hill but for bogeys at the final two holes which could prove costly. Mann holds a conditional card for the Seniors Tour and will hope that course knowledge will see him through. His son Curtis was his caddy.

Mark Jillings of Bury St Edmunds, who was expecting to play in a qualifying round which was called off, did well to end only six over par considering the fact that he plays very little competitive golf these days.

The cut may now be out of reach for Jillings but he will have enjoyed the experience.

A big crowd is expected today and spectators are sure to be impressed by the way the course has been presented.

Torrance, Longmuir and Mason tee off at 9.10 today. John Chillas starts at 9.30 while Darcy, Russell and Ebihara have a 1.20 tee time. The top 60 and ties will make the cut.

Scoreboard

64: J Chillas (Glenbervie).

65: S Torrance (De Vere Belfry).

67: N Job (Drift), D J Russell (Archerfield Links), B Longmuir (London Golf Club), T Johnstone (De Vere Herons Reach), G Cali (Italy), G Watine (France).

68: S Martin (Scotland), J Hawkes (Swinley Forest), S Owen (Locheagles), L Carbonetti (Argentina), M Poxon (England).

69: E Darcy (Druids Glen), P O'Boyle (Bandon), S Wild (Trentham), J Bland (South Africa), A Fernandez (Club de Golf la Dehesa, B Lincoln (South Africa), P Dugeny (France).

70: A Mew (Stoneham), B Smit (South Africa), J Rivero (Spain), T Gale (Australia), D Johnson (USA), R Stelten (USA), B Cameron (Longmere Golf), D Cambridge (Jamaica), G Harvey (Bearsden Golf Range), I Mosey (England), J Benda (USA).

71: K Spurgeon (Ferndown), M Pinero (Spain), N Ratcliffe (Australia), F Hill (Thorpeness), D Creamer (England), M Foster (Bradford Moor), C Mason (England), M Calero (Spain).

72: J P Sallat (France), B Larratt (Kibworth), G Burroughs (Boyce Hill), T Allen (Maxstoke Park), G J Brand (Marriott Hollins Hall), D O'Sullivan (Ireland), S Ebihara (Japan), R Caldwell (USA), G Laing (North Wilts), R Green (Bramhall), M Bembridge (England), G Ralph (Camberley Heath).

Other scores included

73: R Mann (Felixstowe Golf Range), G Townhill (Brough), C Defoy (Coombe Hill), J Bruner (USA), T Charnley (England), E Rodriguez (Spain).

74: G Encina (Chile), M Gregson (Carlyon Bay Hotel), A Sowa (Argentina).

76: E Polland (Ireland), L Platts (retired).

77: D Jagger (Hull), M White (Penfold Park).

78: M Jillings (Bury St Edmunds), P Hinton (Bridgnorth).

79: J Hudson (Rivenhall Oaks).

87: C Aldred (Flempton).

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