From The European Tour
Two-time MCB Tour Champion David Frost surged to the top of the leaderboard on the opening day of the European Senior Tour’s finale courtesy of a sensational finish which included four birdies and an eagle in his last six holes.
Frost’s love affair with the Legend Course at Constance Belle Mare Plage started with his victory in 2011, and the South African is in pole position to claim an unprecedented third title after moving to the head of affairs on seven under par.
That scenario had seemed unlikely when he turned in 35, as the putts stubbornly refused to drop on the front nine.
But he came alive on the back nine, following up a birdie on the 13th hole with three gains in a row from the 15th, before a stunning approach to ten feet on the last set the seal on a round of 65.
Frost’s dazzling denouement gave him a two-shot lead over Englishman Paul Eales, who had set the pace earlier in the day with a pristine five under par round of 67, with Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie a further shot back in a share of third place.
Frost said: “I’ve had a lot of joy at this event in the past, so I always feel very good whenever I arrive. You can’t be too aggressive off the tee, you’ve got to stick to your game plan and I executed that very well today. When I saw the leaderboard just after the turn, I thought if I could finish well there was no reason why I couldn’t get to within a shot. But to go into the second round with a two-shot lead was way beyond my expectations.
“I had the right number on the 16th, so managed to stick it in there pretty close then on the 17th I hit probably my best putt of the day. On the last, I hit a great approach but actually got a little bit lucky with the putt, because it bounced up off the grain as soon as I hit it. But luckily it just made it to the hole, so I might’ve got away with one there but I had no luck on the front nine, so it probably evened itself out overall.”
Despite finding a tricky lie in the greenside bunker, Eales birdied the final hole to sign for his joint lowest round of the 2015 season.
Eales is yet to enter the winner’s circle in the over-50s ranks, with a tie for third in the 2013 English Senior Open his best performance to date, but the former European Tour champion is aiming to rectify that over the next two days.
He said: “It was a bit hot and sweaty, but playing alongside Des [Smyth] is always a pleasure. It helped that I play pretty well too, no bogeys on your card is always a good day.
“The birdie on the last was a lovely way to finish. My ball was right up against the face of the bunker where there was a lot of sand, but experience tells you to hit a bit harder than you otherwise would. It came out nice and softly to four feet, and I managed to pop the putt in so I’m a happy boy.
“I’m off to the beach now – there’s a sun-downer with my name all over it!”
Meanwhile, Montgomerie came alive on the back nine, plundering four birdies in his final six holes to climb into a share of third alongside Argentine Luis Carbonetti and South African Chris Williams.
Montgomerie’s quest for a first victory in the MCB Tour Championship got off to a shaky start, as he was level par through 12 holes, but gains on the 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th moved him ominously into contention.
Montgomerie said: “It was nice to finish strongly, especially I was overheating a little to be honest so it was pleasing to hole a few putts coming home. I made a silly mistake on the 12th which cost me a bogey, but I hung in there and played some very nice stuff towards the end. So I’m fairly happy with the start, but there’s definitely a little bit of room for improvement over the next two days.”
Williams had looked on course to join Eales in a share of second place on five under par, until a duffed bunker shot on the 17th hole led to a second bogey of the day. But a round of 68 was still a commendable effort from the South African, who is hoping to end a frustrating campaign on a high.
The same is true of Carbonetti, who is 52nd on the Senior Tour Order of Merit and therefore in grave danger of losing his playing privileges for next season.
The Argentine has just one top ten finish in seven appearances this term, but a first victory in a decade would secure his immediate future.
Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Paul Wesselingh is in a tie for sixth place on three under par after he made amends for his only bogey of the day on the 16th hole with a birdie at the last.