Monday 11 December 2017

Walton fails to turn the screw after an early charge

Philip Walton in action
Philip Walton in action

Philip Walton threatened to challenge for the early lead in the Seniors Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl on the South Wales coast yesterday when he swept to the turn in two-under-par 33.

But a miserable three-hole spell during the homeward half ruined his chances of going to the top of the leaderboard.

However, the 52-year-old former Ryder Cup player from Dublin was still pretty happy with his overall performance and is certainly not out of contention after a 72. Birdies on seven and eight took him to the turn in 33 but then after four consecutive pars he slipped to three bogeys on the bounce.

He drove too far into trouble on 14, then shot through the green and finished by missing a six-foot putt. He then bunkered his tee shot to the short 15th and, after splashing out, failed with an eight-footer. A poor tee shot at 16 led to another dropped stroke.


Walton, who turned professional in 1983, looked like ending with a birdie four but blamed a spectator coughing for missing a short putt. Nevertheless the Irishman was quite content and looking forward to the second round today.

"I hit the ball well and feel I have a good round in me to put me in a challenging position," said Walton.

Walton was joined on the 72-mark later in the day by 61-year-old Des Smyth, one of the vice-captains for September's Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles. Louth man Smyth finished with a birdie four for an inward half of 35.

Smyth and Walton both go into the second round today seven strokes behind leader Bernhard Langer, who played some brilliant golf for a 65 and finished with two birdies.

The German star is two in front of American Bob Tway, with Englishman Chris Williams a further stroke back.

Northern Irishman Ronan Rafferty, who played at Porthcawl in the 1980 Amateur Championship but who admits to playing very little recently, did not fire on all cylinders, reaching the turn in two-over-par 37 and dropping two further strokes for a 75.

Mark McNulty, who hails from Zimbabwe but was granted Irish citizenship in 2003 due to his maternal grandmother coming from Ballymena, returned a 76 despite two double-bogey sevens, while Dennis O'Sullivan finished a miserable round with an 80.

Meanwhile, a fine first round of 65 saw David Horsey sit one shot clear of the field after the opening day of the M2M Russian Open yesterday.

The 29-year-old Englishman has two previous wins on the European Tour, with the last coming over three years ago in the Trophee Hassan II, and he started well to head the leaderboard at the Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club.

A birdie at the par-four first set the tone for Horsey's round, which contained no dropped shots, with another birdie on the eighth and five more following on his back nine.

His seven-under-par round leaves him one shot clear of Scottish duo Scott Jamieson and Peter Whiteford, with the former looking to find some form after a poor showing at the Open Championship last week.

Like Horsey, Jamieson's round contained no dropped shots, the highlight coming with an eagle at the par-five eighth.

There are eight golfers tied in fourth place, one shot shy of the Scottish pair and two behind Horsey.






Irish Independent

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