Des Smyth saw a potentially brilliant first round of the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship suffer a near knockout blow over the closing holes at De Vere Mottram Hall.
The Drogheda ace was cruising three shots clear of clubhouse leader Gordon J Brand at nine under through 15 holes but bogeyed the last three including the 18th when he thinned a bunker shot and hit a woman spectator.
Pat Lees, a member of Stockport Golf Club, was the unfortunate victim and Smyth’s errant approach – his third to the par five hole – blotted his scorecard too, leaving him with a six under 67 and a share of the lead with Brand who lifted this title in 2008.
Smyth, who reached nine under with an eagle, birdie, birdie spurt from the 13th, admitted the incident on the last had shaken him.
“It gave me a fright and I’m sure it gave her a bigger fright. Somebody shouted fore, I thought I was going to the back of the green, I didn’t realise it was going that far,” he said.
“I was flying at nine under through 15 holes and really I didn’t do much wrong coming in. I hit it just short on 16 but didn’t get up and down, I then hit a good shot on 17 but ran through into the rough which made it quite difficult and ended up making a bogey and made a right mess of the last especially hitting that poor lady. That was the worst part.
“I was thinking with three holes to go I could shoot 10 under par here but that’s golf. There were one or two situations which went in my favour earlier in the round. I chipped in on eight which really got my round going.
“I feel good about my game. If ever you can be disappointed with a 67, then I guess today was that day. But if you’d offered me six under at the start of the day, I definitely would’ve taken it.”
Smyth is tied alongside 2008 winner Brand, who fired a flawless round in the morning to lead for much of the day.
Defending champion Paul Wesselingh eagled the par five 13th in a five under par 68 while former Ryder Cup player Philip Walton is tied for seventh after a 70.
Peter O’Hagan shot 74, Denis O’Sullivan a 75 and the Curragh’s Gerry Burke and Ulsterman Jummy Heggarty a brace of 78s as Eamonn Darcy was disqualified.
ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship
67 D Smyth (Irl), G Brand (Eng),
68 P Wesselingh (Eng),
69 M James (Eng), B Longmuir (Sco), S Torrance (Sco),
70 P Walton (Irl), G Bell (Eng), P Golding (Eng), A Franco (Par),
71 M McLean (Eng), G Manson (Aut), J Carriles (Esp), D Russell (Eng), R Drummond (Sco), G Wolstenholme (Eng), S Rastall (Eng), T Price (Aus), P Linhart (Esp), M Cunning (USA), J Gould (Eng), R Green (Eng), S Tinning (Den), S Brown (Eng), R Sabarros (Fra), M Mackenzie (Eng),
72 S Luna (Esp), P Mitchell (Eng), G Banister (Aus), C Mason (Eng), N Job (Eng), J Harrison (Eng), D James (Sco), M Martin (Esp), A Oldcorn (Sco), I Woosnam (Wal),
73 L Carbonetti (Arg), A Forsbrand (Swe), S Van Vuuren (RSA), B Cameron (Eng), R Roper (Eng), J Hawksworth (Eng), J Bruner (USA),
74 J Woodward (USA), F Mann (Sco), G Ryall (Eng), A Sherborne (Eng), P O’Hagan (Irl), S Bennett (Eng), G Norquist (USA), W Grant (Eng), G Brand Jnr (Sco), T Johnstone (Zim), R Gibson (Can), K Tarling (Can), J Laforce (Can), M Piñero (Esp),
75 A Fernandez (Chi), R Masters (Eng), J Mathews (Eng), L Fickling (Eng), R Ellis (Eng), G Stubbington (Eng), P Smith (Sco), P Fowler (Aus), P Barber (Eng), S McNally (Eng), T Elliott (Aus), L Turner (Eng), G Ralph (Eng), D O’Sullivan (Irl), I Parker (Sco), K Spurgeon (Eng), A Murray (Eng), M Kierstenson (Eng), M Farry (Fra)
76 J Murphy (Eng), P Gresswell (Eng), P Jonas (Can), Z Martinez (USA), D Hospital (Esp), R Thompson (USA), M Stokes (Eng), M Wharton (Eng), S Ball (Eng), J Anderson (USA), T Thelen (USA), A Webster (Sco),
77 S Cipa (Eng), A Saddington (Sco), M Deboub (Alg), K Olsen (Aus), J Quiros (Esp), N Ratcliffe (Aus), J Hall (Eng), J Sallat (Fra), C Williams (RSA),
78 M Squire (Eng), T Charnley (Eng), S McAllister (Sco), C Haynes (Eng), G Burke (Irl), S Craig (Sco), A Mackenzie (Sco), M Zilko (Aus), J Heggarty (Nir),
79 M Bembridge (Eng), P Way (Eng), P Hinton (Eng),
80 B Sharrock (Eng), D Durnian (Eng),
81 K Phillips (Eng), M White (Sco), K Baxter (Sco),
82 M Howell (Eng), A Gibson (Eng), A Bownes (Eng),
84 W Holland (Eng),
85 J Twissell (Eng)
DQ E Darcy (Irl)