Senior Men’s Stroke Play – Day One: Latham and Foster lead the pack

Two-time winner Richard Latham kept his cool to post an excellent round of 69 and share the first round lead with Trevor Foster after day one of the English Senior Men’s Stroke Play.

Latham – champion in 2013 and 2016 – was suffering from a lack of confidence heading into this event based on a disappointing putting display at the recent English Men’s Senior Amateur Championship at The Leicestershire.

However, the green shoots of recovery were in evidence when shooting under par in an Open at his home club, Woodhall Spa, at the weekend.

And buoyed by that, the 64-year-old (main image) was able to rattle off seven birdies in his opening round at Ashridge to leave himself tied with old colleague Foster going into Thursday’s second round at Berkhamsted on a score of three-under par.

  • For full scoring details from round one at Ashridge and Berkhamsted, click here

After sinking a testing five-footer for par on 18 to get into the clubhouse on three-under par, a score later matched by Foster, Latham was entitled to feel pleased with his day’s work.

“I am happy with that – I’ve had an extraordinary day on the greens,” he said with a smile.

“I holed some great putts and also missed some really short putts.

“I missed three in total, but I also chipped in on 16 having flushed my approach and watched it sail through the green.

“I’ve been a bit edgy recently. I played a few weeks ago and hit the ball great and putted badly and that affected me.

“It was a question of calming down and getting back into doing what I do best.

“Now I just need to keep going.

“I have won this twice and I USED to know how to get the job done!

“I’ve been blessed to have won it before and I’ll be grateful to challenge again at my ripe old age.

”Let’s see how we go….”

Latham wasn’t the only England cap to shine on a day which started with a chill wind and cloud and ended in warm sunshine.

Pleasington’s Foster (pictured above) had missed out on the recent English Senior Men’s Amateur Championship due to a pre-booked family holiday.

The Spanish sunshine must have done the 62-year-old the world of good as he raced to four-under par by the 12th hole.

Consecutive dropped shots at the 14th and 15th set him back on his heels, but the former British Seniors Amateur champion regained his composure to birdie the 16th and sign for a score of 69.

“At one point I was thinking if I could par the 14th and then birdie the two par fives, a six-under par round was on the cards,” said Foster.

“I think I played the next two with my head in the clouds!

“But I’d have that score of 69 before the round. A couple of putts did slip by, but it was still, a good round and we’ll go again.”

Moor Park’s John Ambridge was another golfer pleasantly surprised by getting into the red figures on day one at Ashridge.

The 65-year-old had no notion that a round of 70 was on the cards.

He said: “I have been playing very poorly.  I’ve had a couple of lessons from my pro and I think I need to go and see him again!

“It’s a basic problem in my swing – I’m too lazy and don’t turn my shoulders.

“Today, I was steady and hit lots of greens. The greens were true and I putted nicely.

“Normally my driving is good and sets up my scores. The likelihood of me doing well at Berkhamsted, where you don’t hit a lot of drivers, is low, but I’m putting well so we’ll see.

“Berkhamsted is a challenge and I hope its easier because of rain we’ve had.”

Among a cluster of players on one-under par was former champion, Doug Cameron from Worthing.

Defending champion Rupert Kellock – looking to win this event for the third year on the spin – opened with a five-over par round of 76 at Berkhamsted.

On day two, competitors will play the opposite course from round one and a halfway cut will follow with the top 80 and ties making it through to the third and final round at Ashridge.