Woody Austin finished day open of the Senior OPen at Carnoustie wiht an outright lead, notching up six birdies on his way to a four-under-par 68.
The 52-year-old finished one ahead of seven players, with 10 others a further shot back on a crowded leader board following a day when a wind that seemed to be constantly switching proved troublesome.
Barrie Burn also proved troublesome for two of the competition’s big guns - with both Tom Watson and Colin Montgomerie’s approaches at the last ending up in the water.
Austin made his score by covering the last eight holes in four-under, having birdied the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th. He would have been two ahead but for squandering another good chance from eight feet at the last. “The last four holes were the best I played all day and it’s always good to sneak ahead of everybody,” he said.
The seven-strong group breathing down his neck includes 1998 Open champion Mark O’Meara. Maintaining the form that had enabled him to be the oldest player to make the cut at Royal Troon last week, the 59-year-old started with two birdies before making three gains to par in four holes from the 12th.
Esteban Toledo, another of the players sitting one off the lead, prepared for this event with a visit last week to East Lothian, where he played at Dunbar and Longniddry among others. “You don’t know if you’re going to get good weather or bad weather in Scotland,” said the Mexican, who won the Allianz Championship on the Champions Tour earlier in the year before caddying for Sandy Lyle at The Masters. “So you’ve got to deal with it.”
Helped by an eagle-3 at the 14th, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a 70, as did Swede Jesper Parnevik and Stephen Dodd, the Welshman’s effort coming on his Senior debut after he only turned 50 last Friday.
While those wet finishes left three-time winner Watson and Montgomerie having to settle for disappointing 76s, Bernhard Langer is already lurking ominously after a 71.
Meanwhile, Jean van de Velde may still loves Carnoustie, the course certainly is proving a trying time for the Frenchman.
In his Senior Open debut, his 11-over-par 83 left him with just four players sitting below him in the 144-man field.
“I am not playing well enough,” admitted Van de Velde after an effort that included a triple-bogey 8 at the sixth, where he was out of bounds, and a double-bogey 6 at the last.
“Nothing worked today,” he added. “The few good shoots I hit I found fairway bunkers. Four times I had to chip sideways and that doesn’t help around here. I putted pretty poorly – I three-putted four times – as well so put that combination together and it’s not good. It’s a day to move on with. I know where my game is and the score reflects that I am not playing well.”