Surrey’s Ian Attoe led a low-scoring first day at the English senior men’s amateur championship at Sherwood Forest and Coxmoor Golf Clubs in Nottinghamshire.
Attoe, the 2015 champion, scorched round Coxmoor in five-under par 68 and is one shot clear of Yorkshire’s Rich Jones, who shot four-under 67 at Sherwood Forest.
Attoe was helped by a new putter, acquired last week, and took just 23 putts in his round as he amassed a total of eight birdies, including one on each of the five par fives.
“It was all based round a good short game and my putting was very solid,” said Attoe, from Worplesdon Golf Club. “I also took advantage of any luck that I had and I’m very pleased with the score as a start.”
It underlines Attoe’s good form this season, having been fifth in the Irish seniors and joint runner-up in the Frank Stableford Open at Wallasey. It’s all in pursuit of a place in the England senior team and he’s currently third on the England senior order of merit.
“I’ve played for England twice and I would like some order of merit points to try to get back in the team” he said. “It’s a target, an objective for the year.”
Jones (Rotherham) is playing his first season of senior golf and made an instant impact with his bogey-free 67 – played without the benefit of a practice round.
He had nine straight pars on the way out, then chipped in for birdie on 10 and started a scoring run which included birdies on 12 and 14, holing putts from inside 3ft on both. Another birdie followed on short 15th.
Jones, a former Yorkshire champion who has played for his county 100 times, followed a policy of playing safe and took long irons from many of the tees to stay out of trouble.
He’s the head greenkeeper at Waterfront Golf at Wath upon Dearne and had high praise for the work of his colleagues at Sherwood Forest. “It’s brilliant, it’s a great venue for this competition,” he remarked.
Coxmoor proved the most scorable course today with 11 players beating par there, compared with four at Sherwood Forest.
Paul Vicary (Saunton), Simon Ostrom (Rowlands Castle) and Alan Mew (Stoneham) are tied for third place with rounds of three-under 70 at Coxmoor.
Next are Neil Self (Stand), Tony Holt (Clitheroe),Tim Christie (Northenden) and Tim Whittaker (Beaconsfield) on two under. Self had the best possible start at Sherwood Forest when he chipped in for eagle two on the first hole. At Coxmoor, Holt ended his round with an eagle three while Christie started with four consecutive birdies, reached the turn in six-under 30 and, in total, had eight threes. Whittaker came home in four-under.
Six players are grouped on one under. At Coxmoor, Rob Godley (Hillside), also had eight threes and came home in five-under. Also at Coxmoor were Christopher Harrison (Ulverston), Richard Partridge (Littlestone), and Tim Aggett (Warren); with Richard Norton (Beverley & East Riding) and Terry Crawley (Littlestone) at Sherwood Forest.