Rafferty and McGovern start well in Wales
Chris Williams. Picture: Getty Images

Chris Williams. Picture: Getty Images

Chris Williams (which must be used in conjunction with this release only and credited to Getty Images) in your respective publications with immediate effect.
Ronan Rafferty is just two shots off the lead as Headfort’s Brendan McGovern made a fine start to his European Senior Tour career in the SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open.

While South Africa’s Chris Williams birdied the closing two holes of The Celtic Manor Resort’s Roman Road course, including a chip-in from just off the green on the last, to take a two shot lead in the opening round, it was still a good day for the Irish .

Rafferty, 52, had five birdies in a two under 68 that leaves him tied for fourth while McGovern is tied 22nd on one over after a 71.

Denis O’Sullivan’s 300th appearance on the circuit began with a two over 72 for a share of 26th while Philip Walton and Des Smyth are 33rd and 38th after rounds of 73 and 74 with Eamon Darcy back in 47th after a 77.

 South African Williams reached the turn in two under par and then had his only bogey of the day on the 13th hole sandwiched in between birdies on the 12th and 14th before back-to-back gains on the 17th and 18th holes for a five under par round of 65.

Those latter birdies moved him clear of playing partner Lianwei Zhang of China, and Englishman Malcolm Mackenzie, who finished his round of 67 with a hat-trick of birdies.

Williams ended his 2015 campaign with two top-10 finishes in the last three events, and the 57 year old is pleased to have started the new season in strong fashion.

He said: “I’m very pleased, this is a testing course. The greens are very slick and the wind, even though it dropped a little bit will make the course quite tricky.

“The wind was calmer than during the practice round and it made two-club’s difference. The weather was fantastic, and we’re lucky to have that weather here in Wales.

“To have two birdies on 17 and 18 is a bonus. I was very happy to come in with those, and it was great to chip in on the last. I do think that the last three holes will be tournament deciders.”

Local favourite Ian Woosnam finished level par alongside playing partner, and last year’s Senior Tour Rookie of the Year, Paul Broadhurst.

Completed scores after Round One:

Detailed scores

65 C Williams (RSA), 

67 M Mackenzie (Eng), L Zhang (Ihn), 

68 D Russell (Eng), G Marks (Eng), B Langmuir (Sco), Ronan Rafferty (Nir), A Bossert (Sui), 

69 A Forsbrand (Sie), P Golding (Eng), P Linhart (Esp), G Manson (Aut), J Kingston (RSA), J Quiros (Esp), G Emerson (Eng), M Atlevi (Swe), S Tinning (Den), 

70 I Woosnam (Wal), P Fowler (Aus), P Broadhurst (Eng), D Gilford (Eng), 

71 Brendan McGovern (Irl), G Brand (Eng), N Job (Eng), K Tarling (Can), 

72 A Franco (Par), A Oldcorn (Sco), B Conser (USA), M Mouland (Wal), Denis O’Sullivan (Irl), P Eales (Eng), S Luna (Esp), 

73 M Farry (Fra), G Brand Jnr (Sao), P Walton (Irl), T Thelen (USA), B Lane (Eng), 

74 Des Smyth (Irl), A Sherborne (Eng), S Brown (Eng), P Wisseling (Eng), M James (Eng), P Mayo (Wal), 

75 M Harwood (Aus), 

76 G Wolstenholme (Eng), C Mason (Eng), 

77 C Monasterio (Arg), P O’Malley (Aus), P Evans (Wal), Eamonn Darcy (Irl), M Davis (Eng), 

79 G Davies (Wal), 

80 R Drummond (Sco), J Carriles (Esp)