Walton beats blues

By Brian Keogh

Philip Walton bounced back from the "depression" of his French Open disaster with a level par 70.

The Malahide man, 45, racked up a nightmare first round 89 in Paris last week in one of his rare tour starts.

But he showed his class on a tough opening day at The K Club with three birdies and three bogeys.

He beamed: "That's a bit better. Actually it's 19 shots better than last week. I was actually depressed over it. Big time.

"People were looking at me a bit funny when I came home. I put seven or eight balls in the water over there.

"But I did well to hang in there and shoot 89 actually because I was 14 over after taking a 12 on my ninth hole.

"It's a dangerous track that Golf National. And this is a dangerous track too. You could easily put three or four balls in the water out there."

A Ryder Cup hero at Oak Hill in 1995, Walton stayed dry yesterday despite the frustration of a slow start.

He said: "I just went out there determined to stay relaxed but I was two over after six and thought, here we go again."

Bogeys at the first and sixth were erased with birdies at the par-five seventh and long 11th, where he fired a sand wedge to three feet.

After another bogey at the 13th, he rammed home a 20 footer for a birdie at the 15th and then holed a sand shot for a par at the next.

Seniors golf is still far from Walton's mind and he knows that playing partner Ollie Fisher, who hit a 70, will suffer his share of ups and downs before he's finished.

Walton said: "I was impressed my Ollie Fisher. Is he 18? I can't believe it. Lovely putting stroke."

Then he added with a grin: "It's a young man's putting stroke. But he will learn."