CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — Jay Don Blake shot a 4-under 67 to lead a strong American showing in the opening round of the British Seniors Open at Carnoustie on Thursday.
Blake is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard alongside Germany’s Bernhard Langer and England’s Carl Mason.
Below that trio the only non-American in the next 17 places was Scotsman Sam Torrance, who shot a 69.
Carnoustie, widely rated as the toughest links layout on the British Open championship rotation, is vastly different from most of the courses on the Champions Tour.
“It’s a golf course where you can’t be aggressive because you can’t fly the ball at flags like we are used to over in the courses we play in America,” said Blake, who had six birdies and two bogeys. “I have had to learn a whole new game, which is fun. It’s exciting, but it’s tough.
“I just tried to stay out of the death bunkers, as I call them, because it’s a certain one-shot penalty getting in them.”
Mason, playing in the afternoon after wind had subsided, was the only player to get to 5 under after a run of five birdies in six holes. However, his chances of an outright lead were ruined when his 3-iron approach to the 10th hole ended with his ball plugged in the steep face of a greenside bunker.
“It was so bad, there was no way I could get the ball out at the first attempt,” he said after taking a double-bogey 6.
Among the Americans chasing the leaders were U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin (69) and former captain Tom Lehman (71).
Of the three former European captains in the field, only Torrance emerged from the first round under par. He’s hoping to complete a golfing double for his 78-year-old father.
Bob Torrance was the coach who built Padraig Harrington’s swing before his 2007 victory at Carnoustie in the British Open.
With his game in poor shape, Sam went home this week to seek some fatherly advice.
“He’s a great coach,” Sam Torrance said. “He sees things that nobody else sees. He gave me a great swing thought and it worked. I would love to win here now at Carnoustie, but there is a long way to go.”