Zhang's fast start secures senior title

Category: Events, News, Up Your Game

Lianwei Zhang became the first ever Chinese winner on the European Senior Tour as his incredible front nine paved the way for a three-stroke victory in the SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open.

Zhang birdied his first four holes and then really put his first on the accelerator with an eagle three to be an amazing six under par for his first five holes on the Roman Road Course.

More birdies at the eighth and the ninth saw him turn in 29 strokes, eight under par for his round and 12 under par for the championship, three clear of the chasing pack.

The first round of 59 on either the regular or senior European tours even looked possible but, after missing from three feet for another birdie on 10, Zhang plotted out regulation pars to stay ahead as the group behind him never gave up in spite of his stellar start.

David Gilford turned in seven under par himself and then Zhang's playing partner Paul Broadhurst birdied the 11th to reach 10 under and close within two shots.

When Zhang rolled in another birdie from the fringe of the 16th green - his longest putt of the day at 12 feet - he had regained a three-shot lead. Two more birdies on the last two holes would have seen Zhang achieve the magic number of 59 but he ended up dropping his only shot of the day on the 18th.

Not that it mattered too much to the champion.

"I am very happy and very proud to be the first Chinese winner on the European Senior Tour," he said. 

"I made a very good start, four birdies and an eagle and then more birdies on holes eight and nine. Then I just kept the scoring going and I was very happy to see I was the leader by three strokes after my birdie on the 16th."


Like Zhang, Broadhurst was making his debut in the Wales Senior Open but the Midlander has a great record over the Roman Road Course.

"I finished second here to Robert Karlsson in the Wales Open on the European Tour," he said. "In fact the three years it was played on this course while the Twenty Ten was being built, I never finished outside the top 10.

"So I play this course pretty well and I'm pleased with nine under par this week. There was only one player better and you have to take your hat off to Zhang, he played incredibly well on the front nine and never really gave us a chance.

"He didn't have to make a putt over five feet - he was hitting it that close to the hole. Even his eagle was only four foot from the hole."

Gilford finished third on eight under and Switzerland's Andre Bossert was fourth on seven under par. Mark Mouland was another to enjoy the glorious sunshine and his closing 66 saw him  finish the leading Welshman on one under par.

Ian Woosnam, who had briefly moved to within one of the lead on Saturday, finished one shot further back on level par.

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