Ireland's quartet of challengers failed to break par as Switzerland’s André Bossert justified his decision to resist the lure of a tournament on home soil as he posted a four under par opening round of 68 to share the lead with Juan Quiros in the Acorn Jersey Open.
Bossert, the only Swiss player to win on The European Tour, had been offered an invitation to play in the Swiss Challenge presented by Association Suisse de Golfe, but instead opted to continue his quest for a breakthrough victory on the European Senior Tour and opened with a four under 68 for a share of the first round lead.
It has proved a sage decision so far, with the 51 year old building on the form he showed in finishing tied fifth in last week’s SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open, producing another impressive display at La Moye Golf Club.
As Des Smyth, Philip Walton and Denis O;Sullivan shot one over 73s and Ronan Rafferty a 76, Bossert birdied the 13th, 15th and 17th holes, before dropping his first shot of the day when he three putted the 18th.
He then posted back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes, adding one more on the sixth to move clear at the top of the leaderboard, but another three putt on the eighth hole meant he had to settle for a share of the lead with Spaniard Quiros.
“I had two-three putts today and missed my fair share elsewhere, so I played well out there,” he said. “I think four under was about right and I’m very pleased with the start.
“I prepared well for the season and I’m feeling good about my game. It was great to make the cut in the US Senior PGA Championship on a tough course, and then I finished top five last week, so I’m playing well.
“This year, the goal is to be in contention a little more and see if I can breakthrough.”
Bossert, who won the 1995 Cannes Open on The European Tour, admits it was a straightforward choice to continue his pursuit of a maiden Senior Tour win, with his best finish to date a share of second place behind runaway winner Colin Montgomerie in the Travis Perkins Masters last September.
“I would have played on the Challenge Tour if it was a blank week on the Senior Tour, as I was given an invite, but this is my priority now,” he said. “I’ve done my time with the kids. It’s looking like a good decision so far and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Quiros had earlier set the pace, recovering from a double bogey five on the par three 12th hole, to card his fifth and sixth birdies of the day on the next two holes.
The 59 year old has won four times on the Senior Tour, including the 2008 Irish Seniors Open over the links of Ballyliffin, which he compared to La Moye.
“It’s a long time since I’ve had a score like this, so it is very nice,” he said. “My victory in the Irish Seniors Open at Ballyliffin seven years ago was on a course a bit like this, but the conditions were much tougher, with the rain and cold. This is my first time here and I really like it.
“It’s not a long links course but it is very difficult. It needs concentration and I’m happy with my start.”
Englishman Mark Davis threatened to make it a three-way tie at the top, but he dropped a shot on the last hole and had to settle for a round of 69, sharing third place with Canadian Rick Gibson, the runner up on the 2014 Senior Tour Order of Merit, who birdied three of his last six holes.
Englishman Barry Lane, the former Ryder Cup player, posted a round of 70 for a fsix-way share of sixth position on two under par, alongside Carl Mason, the most prolific winner in Senior Tour history, France’s Marc Farry, Canadian Ken Tarling, Sweden’s Anders Forsbrand and Australian Peter Fowler.
Former World Number One and Masters Champion, Ian Woosnam, opened with a level par round of 72 to lie four shots off the pace in a share of 14th position. The Welshman, who is a long-time resident on the Channel Island, eagled the par five sixth hole and birdied the ninth, but also had three bogeys on his card, as he looks to go one better than last week’s tied second place in his native Wales.
Complete round one scores from La Moye Golf Club (par 72)
68 A Bossert (Sui), J Quiros (Esp)
69 R Gibson (Can), M Davis (Eng),
70 K Tarling (Can), C Mason (Eng), B Lane (Eng), P Fowler (Aus), M Farry (Fra), A Forsbrand (Swe),
71 G Marks (Eng), J Remesy (Fra),
72 M James (Eng), G Brand (Eng), I Woosnam (Wal), A Sherborne (Eng), P Golding (Eng),
73 D O'Sullivan (Irl), D Smyth (Irl), P Walton (Irl), D Russell (Eng), J Bruner (USA), P Way (Eng), M Mouland (Wal), M Martin (Esp), P Wesselingh (Eng), G Brand Jnr (Sco),
74 S Brown (Eng), J Berendt (Arg), N Job (Eng), G Wolstenholme (Eng), M Harwood (Aus), S Tinning (Den), G Manson (Aut), B Longmuir (Sco),
75 R Drummond (Sco), M Mackenzie (Eng), J Harrison (Eng), G Rusnak (USA), S Luna (Esp), P Linhart (Esp), L Carbonetti (Arg), T Thelen (USA),
76 P Eales (Eng), D Hospital (Esp), T Elliott (Aus), P Mitchell (Eng), A Oldcorn (Sco), R Rafferty (Nir), B Cameron (Eng),
77 W Grant (Eng),
78 T Johnstone (Zim), C Williams (RSA), S Torrance (Sco), T Price (Aus),
79 N Ratcliffe (Aus), P Harrison (Eng),
80 G Emerson (Eng),
81 M Deeley (Eng),
88 W Stephens (Eng).