Lower sets the pace

15/05/2013

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Former champion John Lower turned back the clock to set the early pace at the Senior PGA Professional Championship at a damp and chilly Northants County.

The 64-year-old Wollaton Park Professional, who captured the title in 2003, carded an impressive one-under-par 69 on the opening day of the 54-hole championship.

A shot further back on level par are Richard Masters (Baildon), Brian Sharrock (BFS Trading Ltd) and two-time PGA Cup player and past PGA Professional champion Paul Carman.

Decked out in kit more akin to a winter medal in December than the early shoots of summer, it was Lower’s putting that was red hot as he sunk four birdies to offset three bogeys.

He capitalised on both par fives, the second and 18th, with other gains at the third and 14th. His dropped shots came at the seventh, 10th and 16th.

Lower, who also claimed the Super 60s title in 2008, said: “I putted well and that was the key to my game today.

“I drove it pretty decent but it was the putting as I made some good saves as well as a few birdies.

“In general, it wasn’t a remarkable round of golf but the best I have putted for a number of years.

“I’m 65 in August so it was very pleasing to do that. I come here with a positive attitude and who knows what may happen. I don’t expect to win it but I don’t write it off.”

His round was even more remarkable given the conditions faced by the field.

“The conditions were very tough but the course played extremely well and was in excellent condition, which given the winter we have had is a credit to the club.

“It’s been winter hats and winter mitts…in May. We were lucky with the weather though as I thought it was going to get worse so we had a let off.”

Lower sat atop of the leaderboard for the majority of the day, fleetingly knocked off by Murray White (Penfold Park Golf Club) and Simon Wood (Staplehurst Golf Centre), however both saw their challenges fade over the back nine.

But Masters, Carman and Sharrock came through the barrage, with bright sunshine the order of the day for the late finishers.

Masters, who tied ninth last year, had a real mixed card of five birdies, including a closing pair, and five bogeys for his level par 70.

Carman eagled the par five second but dropped a shot at the next. Ten pars followed before going bogey-birdie-bogey from the 14th.

Sharrock recovered from opening with a double bogey on the first with instant birdies at the next two holes. After the turn, he dropped shots at the 10th and 13th with gains at 12 and 14.

A cut will be made after the second round with the top 40 players and ties battling it out for a share of the £35,000 prize fund, while the top 20 will qualify for next month’s ISPS HANDA PGA Senior Championship at De Vere Mottram Hall, Cheshire.

This is the seventh successive year the championship has been held at Northants County.

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