English trio lead the way in Turkey

30/11/2012

It was the lion hearts of St George that roared the loudest on this latest Turkish Crusade for the Lombard Challenge - and on St Andrew's Day of all days.

The opening round of the £25,000 PGA Pro-Captain tournament saw a trio of English-led teams sharing top spot - having overcome the testing PGA Sultan course and relentless heavy rain.

Derbyshire-based Shirland, who finished third last year, set the mark with a five-under-par 66, which was matched by Kent's Tenterden and East Sussex's Beauport Park pairings.

Shirland, lead by PGA professional Ian Walley and captain Adrian Shaw, opened with five birdies in the first seven holes, marred only by a bogey at the second. It was par golf all the way home bar a solitary birdie at the 17th.

Walley recognised the input of the 52-year-old captain, in their impressive opening salvo.

"Adrian got off to a good start making a couple of birdies early on and backed me up on the back nine, which was really good," he said.

"I hadn't expected rain as I only came with a pencil bag so it was tough out there drying the grips and trying to keep it going.

"We didn't make too many mistakes and we dropped one shot out on the second and apart from that we were very good."

Captain Shaw, who plays off 12, added: "I played really well and the highlight came at the long par three sixth when I popped it in for a birdie. I lost my way a little bit after that as there was some good and some bad but the conditions didn't help."

Former Challenge Tour player and PGA Europro Tour winner Richard Silman recalled the glory days as he and Tenterden's captain Steve Parsons dovetailed perfectly together.

Like Shirland, the majority of their work was done on the opening holes with five birdies in six holes. They dropped shots at the fourth and eighth, but recouped those with gains at 13 and 17.

Silman said: "It's a fantastic start as obviously the weather wasn't on our side. My captain had four net birdies and I had three birdies on different holes so we dovetailed very well.

"Steve was ultimately more relaxed and off 18 he's pretty handy. I was the one more nervous than him.

"I haven't played competitively for a while, I just play here and there because of my club job.

"But I did play full time for 10 years so I could play then and so on and off I hit a few good scores. Our score is looking very competitive."

Beauport Park made it a three-way lead with a round that included an eagle at the 16th. Their scorecard also included six birdies and three bogeys.

PGA pro Charles Giddins said: "We had a fabulous day out there. We came out of the blocks really quick with three birdies.

"Kim had a nett birdie on the first and I birdied the next two. We got bogged down a bit with the weather but had a strong finish at the end.

We can't win it on the first day but we can put ourselves in contention which is what we have done."

Three Scotsmen, who were seeking to make the most of being looked over by their patron saint, are at the helm of sides each representative of the Celtic nations.

PGA pro Ryan McCann is piloting Nenagh Golf Club, based in the south west of Ireland, near Limerick.

He and captain Sean Minogue who plays off 21, are the nearest challengers to the leading trio after posting a three-under-par 68.

Welsh hopefuls Marriott St Pierre, who are led by Craig Dun, runner up over this course last year and in 2008 in Bahrain, returned a level par 71 with the aid of captain James Cook.

Meanwhile, the North Berwick duo of pro Martyn Huish and captain Jim Shearer were poised to regroup after opening with an eight-over-par 79.

The 36-hole tournament concludes tomorrow.

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