Welshman Philip Price takes a one shot lead into the second round of the Benson and Hedges International Open at the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield.
Price was the only player in the field to shoot in the 60's as the rest of the field struggled in the windy conditions over the newly laid out Brabazon Course. A three under par 69 was enough to lead the field with only 8 players in the entire field breaking par.
Price's round included an eagle at the par five fifteenth where he hit his 3-wood just short and to the right of the green and followed it by chipping in to get his round kick-started.
And with four birdies in the last seven holes, Price found his way back to the top of the leaderboard after having six out of the last eight weeks off from the tour.
"I didn't think my score was that great as I was going along. I think I probably battled well. The weather is so bad maybe I just managed it better than some of the other guys out there". Said Price.
Price has played the Belfry only once before, in 1992 in the English Open and he freely admits: "I remember I started quite well, but I didn't finish that well".
Sitting one shot behind Price are Thomas Gogele and the outspoken Frenchman Jean Van de Velde, who is mostly responsible for the Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance's lack of concentration during his first tour outing for some time.
While the Frenchman posted a 2-under par 70 in the morning, all Torrance could think about was what Van de Velde said to the press yesterday.
"All I have been thinking about all the way around is what I will have to say to the Press and hope that I don't make a mess of it". Said Torrance on BBC television.
"I am disappointed really. I don't think you should do your washing in public. I think if he has a problem with the Captaincy or the team, he should come to either the Captain or the Vice Captains and try and explain what he is thinking and get it over without blurting it to the world". He added.
A record 29 players failed to break 80 in the first round due to the cold and windy conditions. The most notable was Open Champion Paul Lawrie. With a new caddie on his bag this week, Mick Doran, former bagman to Lee Westwood, Lawrie limped home for an 81 to languish way down the field and is likely to miss the cut unless he shoots very low in the morning.
Defending B&H champion Colin Montgomerie and 1998 winner Darren Clarke also struggled, finishing with 76 and 78 respectively. And unsurprisingly, with the highest score of the day, Seve Ballesteros must have been thinking of a different career after shooting 87, 16-over par.
But Australian teenage sensation Adam Scott surprised everyone and justified his inclusion on a sponsors invitation by firing a 1-under par 71 in the bleak conditions.
Scott, known as the 'White Tiger' because he is coached, by Butch Harmon, swings like Woods and wears the same Nike and Titleist clothing, was impressed by the new layout and thinks he could have improved on his score today.
"I am pretty happy with that round. I could have been two under, but on the 16th, I got out of position and hit a terrible chip. I rushed it, but we were being rushed for time. I putted well and scrambled well and am confident of my game". Said Scott.
The 19-year old Aussie is well prepared for the windy conditions of the Belfry, having grown up playing in Australia around Hope Island, a links course by the sea in Queensland. He could be the surprise package this week and announced that he intends to join the paid ranks in the near future.
"I will be turning Pro some time later in the year, but I want to play in a couple of more events. But my main goal for this year is to qualify for the US Open at Pebble Beach" Added Scott.
The weather is forecast for much of the same over the weekend in Birmingham and the winner will be the best survivor of poor conditions. And with Van de Velde in similar form as last years howling conditions at Carnoustie and Lawrie not going to be around to stop him, the Frenchman could prove to be an unpopular winner among the British crowds. But there is another 54 holes to go and plenty of patriotic will wanting to stop him around here