Heggarty hitting the right notes
Jimmy Heggarty confessed he would have snapped your hand off on the first tee knowing he would finish with a level-par 71 on the opening day of the British Seniors Open at Carnoustie.
It left 54-year-old Heggarty as leading Irish player among the five contesting the €1.55m Major and four strokes behind the leading trio of Germany's Bernhard Langer, England's Carl Mason and American Jay Don Blake.
Heggarty picked off three birdies in his first appearance on the Scottish course where Padraig Harrington won the first of back-to-back British Open titles in 2007.
"I'm really pleased with level par as it's probably the longest course we'll play on the Seniors Tour -- there are some par fours out there that are like par fives for me," said Heggarty. "So if someone had of handed me a 71 on the first tee I would have snapped their hand off.
"It's the first time I've ever played Carnoustie so I am delighted, I would have taken a few over par today. Aside from Birkdale, it's the best championship course I have played and also the fairest. I turned pro at the end of 1975 so I missed out on playing the British Open here that year and by the time it came around again in 1999 I didn't qualify."
The five-year Seniors Tour player, who is contesting just his second British Seniors, began superbly when he put a nine-iron to just a foot at the first and ended his round well when he hit a hybrid from 230 yards at the par-four 17th to just six feet and made the putt.
"I played very steady golf all day with the key being keeping my composure and just accepting what I had," he said.
Heggarty resides in Claremorris in Co Mayo with his partner and caddy, Rianna Kean, who is determined to make Heggarty change the tune he was singing throughout his first round.
"He just kept singing the same song all the way around the golf course today so I have got to get him to change the tune for tomorrow," she joked.
Heggarty ended his round in the group ahead of Cork's Denis O'Sullivan who bogeyed the last in a two-over 73. O'Sullivan, competing in his sixth British Seniors but a first in three years, managed two birdies, with his second sandwiched between bogeys at the 16th and 18th holes.
"It was disappointing to drop one at the last but while I started off pretty well, I played absolute rubbish around the middle part of my round, so two-over-par is not too bad, all considering," he said.
"This is the first time I've played Carnoustie and, having watched Padraig win here three years ago, it was nice to finally get to tee up here -- I have been looking forward to it for some time.
"But then nobody ever told me the golf course was so long and you just have to have your 'A' game."
Des Smyth carded a three-over-par 74, Eamonn Darcy a 75 and Christy O'Connor Jnr an 80 that included losing a ball off the tee at the 12th. "I just can't believe how many sixes I had," said O'Connor.
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