Wiltshire’s Mike White admitted the golfing Gods were smiling on him as he soared to the top of the leaderboard on day one of English Senior Men’s Stroke Play Championship.
The Welshman carded a brilliant four under par round of 65 at Blackmoor Golf Club to move two shots clear of three-times winner Ian Attoe, 2018 runner-up Rich Jones and Stoneham’s Andy Bow.
White started sluggishly and was honest enough to admit that there were shots he played on the back-nine which were not as intended.
Yet when the dust settled on a glorious first day’s play split over two Hampshire courses – Blackmoor Golf Club and Army Golf Club – White was the leader of the pack.
He said: “Things went for me today and I’m delighted.
“I chipped in on the fourth after being one over after three. I chipped in from the 16th tee!
“If I put ten balls down I couldn’t get them within ten foot, suddenly you make birdie and back to level par.
“I hit a thin on 17 – which ended up eight-foot from the hole. I hit a horrible fat second shot in on 16 which ended 15 foot away and I holed the putt.
“Sometimes it’s your day.
“I’ve been saying to my wife that I’ve got a good score coming, but I didn’t think I was hitting the ball well enough. Sometimes you hang in and find a score.
“I could never have guessed I could have scored 65
“I think I might have had all my luck today so I may need to keep my fingers crossed for the next couple of days.”
Throughout the day scoring on Blackmoor was much more favourable than at Army.
However, any imbalance will be addressed on Thursday when the 284 players remaining switch courses for round two before the top 80 and ties return to Blackmoor on Friday for the conclusion to the 54-hole event.
After a fine round of 67, Bow, a newcomer to the senior circuit, may soon have a golfing tale of his own to tell long-time friend and recent European Tour winner Richard Bland.
Last month it was Bow (pictured below) cheering on Bland as he won the British Masters at The Belfry at the ripe old age of 48.
Now the roles may be reversed as Bow aims to make the most of his debut season at this level.
Both men are members at Stoneham Golf Club and when asked what it is about veterans from his neck of the woods, Bow said with a smile: “It takes us a long time to float to the top.”
Bow is in fine shape himself as one of only seven players in the field under par.
Keeping a five off his card at Blackmoor was no mean feat and he heads to Army Golf Club for round two in high spirits.
“The highlight of the round was holing my third shot at 13 for an eagle with an eight iron from 153 yards – that’s a bonus and tidied up the scorecard,” he added.
Worplesdon member Attoe is something of a specialist in this championship and knows how to get over the line having tasted victory in 2015, 2018 and again in 2019.
“I’d like to say I was prepared, but I came in with not so high hopes and I’m pleased I’m being interviewed again,” admitted the England international.
“It seems to bring out the best in me, but we still have 36 holes left to play.”
Now the England international (pictured below) will indulge in his usual superstition after playing well.
“I wear the same clothes every day now and these will be worn for three days running. You won’t want to be interviewing me then!” joked Attoe.
Jones – the third player to shoot a two under par round – came close to winning this championship in 2018. Now he hopes to go one better in 2021.
“I lost in the play-off at Sherwood Forest to Ian Attoe and have also come fourth. This is my third time playing. We’ll see how it goes,” he admitted.
Defending champion Rupert Kellock signed for a one-over par round of 70 at Blackmoor but is far from out of contention.
Elsewhere, Peter Langrish-Smith from Porters Park had a fickle story to tell about the par threes at Blackmoor that will surely resonate with all golfers.
Having sought the advice of club pro Steve Clay before his round, he was told the short holes were key.
After marking down a quadruple bogey at the par 3, 15th – he then fired a hole-in-one from 166 yards at the 17th hole!