Bland, Durnian take early lead

Nicklaus' 70 keeps him in touch in British Seniors Open

Golfmagic correspondent
Thu, 26 Jul 2001

An eagle three at the first hole set South African John Bland on his way to the first round clubhouse lead in the British Seniors Open - a tournament in which he has finished second three times.

Bland added two more birdies but with a chance to take the outright lead at Royal County Down, he fired his approach at the par-5 final hole wide of the green and was unable to get up and down for par.

His three under par shared top spot in blazing sunshine on the Northern Irish coast at Newcastle with Mancunian David Durnian, who had five birdies and two bogeys in his 68. Keith McDonald from Goodwood is also on -3 after the first three holes.

Large, knowledgeable crowds followed the progress ofJack Nicklaus, making his professional competitive debut in Ireland - and he didn't disappoint.

He eagled the first and added two birdies and a bogey before hitting his 4-wood tee shot into a bunker at the 17th and dropped to -1, where he finished the round.

In traditional yellow sweater he said: "I love this kind of links golf but just haven't played it enough.

"I learned some things out there and made a mental error at 17 and I don't make many of those. I hit it into a bunker on the right I didn't even know was there."

Brian Huggett, Sir Bob Charles, John Morgan and Bernard Gallacher are on two under par. And Gary Player is on the same mark after an eagle at the first hole. Arnold Palmer starts his round this afternoon and is certain to draw a big gallery.



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