England and Wales (North) Region
22 Aug 13
Travelling man Ian Keenan returned from Asia to share a first round lead in the De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall.
Merseyside's Keenan spent the last month playing on the Asia Tour in a bid to revive his fortunes, and will be pleased with a competitive return that sees him tied at the top of the leaderboard with Yorkshire hope Nick Ludwell and Welshman Stuart Runcie on five-under-par 66.
"My game needed freshening up," said the Royal Liverpool attached professional.
"I entered four tournaments over there and finished in the top ten twice so I got it right, although I just about broke even after paying my expenses."
Keenan, 37, who has played regularly on the Challenge and EuroPro tours and who celebrates 20 years at the Hoylake club on Friday, reeled off five birdies on the outward half and added three more on the home stretch, which included a chip in at the 11th, but he was left to rue three late bogeys.
This was his first appearance for seven years in the Leeds Cup, unlike regular Nick Ludwell, a former European Tour player and winner of the PGA North Order of Merit, who will be keen to bring professional golf's oldest trophy back over the Pennines.
The 41-year-old from Selby birdied five of the first seven holes, blotting his card with a bogey at the sixth then picked up two shots on the tougher inward half.
Runcie, who works for his dad Iain, the Abergele pro, holed a bunker shot at the second for one of his seven birdies and missed several more realistic chances to add to his tally.
A shot off the pace was Baildon veteran Richard Masters.
"I've been playing well all season," he said, before refusing to dismiss his chances of winning the event at the age of 56.
"I've been trying for a long time," he added.
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