England and Wales (North) Region
13 Aug 14
An 18-month lay-off with a shoulder injury would leave many golfers wondering how long it would take to get back into the swing.
Not David Smith, the 41-year-old professional at Manchester club Swinton Park, who swept into the first round lead in the De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall only a few weeks after resuming his playing career.
"I received the all clear last November but my recovery coincided with taking over the club pro job so I decided to restrict my schedule while I settled in," he explained.
"I finished in a tie for tenth place in the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship at Blairgowrie last week, which was my first proper tournament since my injury, but I must admit I came into this event with low expectations."
A four-under-par 67 put Smith on course to repeat his 2011 victory in professional golf's oldest trophy.
"It would be fantastic to win it again," he said as he led by a shot from a group of four including former European Tour player John Mellor, from North Yorkshire resort The Oaks, and PGA North serial winner David Shacklady, attached to Lancashire club Mossock Hall.
Smith did not make the best of starts after pulling his drive into trees at the first but rolled in a 30-footer to save par - the first of an economical total of 24 putts.
"I holed out well all day but I also chipped in at the fifth for one of my six birdies," he added.
He was in the woods again at the third but this time paid the penalty with a bogey and did not drop another shot until the testing last hole.
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