Surrey’s Keith Waters holds the halfway lead in the Senior Men’s County Champion of Champions Tournament after scoring one-over par 72 today on the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa.
He is two shots clear of Cumbria’s Lionel Dobson, while Graham Coppen (Derbyshire) and Paul McGarry (Shropshire & Herefordshire) are a further stroke back on four-over.
Waters (image © Leaderboard Photography), who plays at West Byfleet, got to two-under after 14 holes, but was caught out by bunkers on the last two holes. Despite the finish he was upbeat: “I’m very pleased, I hit the ball very straight and hit a lot of good iron shots,” he said.
He started with a birdie, bogeyed the third and fifth, and then settled into good scoring. An accurate shot into seven was rewarded with a 6ft putt for birdie and he added two more on the 9th and 14th, both par fives which he hit in two.
But a pulled shot into a difficult lie in a bunker on 17 cost him a double bogey and he dropped another shot on the 18 after finding sand again.
Waters, a former European Tour player, is returning to an old hunting ground at Woodhall Spa. He grew up in Lincolnshire and played the course in county matches and championships – and also in the English amateur and the Brabazon Trophy, where he finished fifth.
After that he spent 16 years on Tour, with a win in the Zimbabwe Open – where he beat Nick Price in a play-off – and finished second to Seve Ballesteros in the British Masters. At the end of his playing career he moved into golf administration, and is now the Chief Operating Officer on the European Tour, returning to amateur ranks about seven years ago.
Cumbria’s Lionel Dobson had a contrasting finish to his round. He birdied both 16 and 17, before accepting a bogey on the last, to finish on three-over.
“I was one-under after four, but then the shots started drifting and I was hanging on until I holed a 15-footer on 16 and about a 20ft putt on 17. On the 18th I was blocked out for my second shot and decided to take a five and be happy!”
Dobson (Brampton) won his county title in a play-off, remarking “I’m lucky to be here.” He is playing in this tournament for the first time and said: “I’m loving it. I’d forgotten that if you won (the county title) you came here – playing in something like this is great.”
Defending champion Alan Mew, from Stoneham in Hampshire, holds fifth place after the first round on five-over 76.
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