Attoe launches his title defence with 65

Defending champion Ian Attoe launched his defence of the English Senior Men’s Open with a superb six-under 65 at Holme Hall Golf Club, Lincolnshire.

He leads by two from Mark Stones of Boyce Hill, Essex, with another six players also beating par on the opening day of the championship.

“It was a perfect round of golf, I’ve never had one like it,” said Attoe, (pictured) from Worplesdon Golf Club in Surrey.

His bogey free round started with a pair of birdies and he played the more difficult back nine in four-under 30, signing off with his sixth birdie of the day on the 18th.

His score is just one shot off the course record of 64, held by England Golf Championship Director, James Crampton.

“I holed a couple of crucial five-footers for par,” said Attoe, who won this championship in 2015, as well as last year. “I only hit one poor shot all day, my second into the par five 9th, and I putted well, which I haven’t been doing.

“I was a bit apprehensive coming into today, but under the pressure it all went beautifully and I am really pleased.”

Attoe was one of eight players to beat par in the first round of the championship, which is being contested by 288 competitors at both Holme Hall and Elsham Golf Clubs.

Closest to him is Mark Boyce on 67 while Adrian Firman, from Peterborough Milton, returned three-under 68, both playing at Holme Hall.

On 69 is Paul Wharton (Woodhall Spa), who had an eagle two on the first hole at Elsham; and Tim Whittaker (Beaconsfield) who played in the most blustery of the conditions at Holme Hall.

“Both the clubs have been incredible,” said Whittaker. “They’re so welcoming. They’ve both been brilliant in the way they’ve prepared the courses and they are playing very nicely.”

Also under par, on 70, are Lancashire’s Bryan Hughes (Hesketh) – a past British Senior Champion – and Ian Crowther (Royal Lytham & St Annes); and John Coupe (Canterbury, Kent).

A group of four players shot level par, including last year’s runner-up. Rich Jones, from Rotherham, Yorkshire, who lost to Attoe in a play-off.

The day produced two holes in one. Glynn Catterall (Rowlands Castle, Hampshire) used a six-iron for his shot to the 160-yard 13th at Holme Hall. Steve Toyne, a past winner of the Australian Senior Match Play Championship, had his ace on the 162-yard sixth at Elsham.

After tomorrow’s second round the field will be cut to the leading 80 players and ties who qualify for the final day’s play at Holme Hall.

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