DAVID McKenzie leads at the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship after an emotional day at London Golf Club, following the passing of Ryder Cup winner Gordon Brand Jnr.
The Australian recorded a bogey-free round of 65, to lead on seven-under by a stroke from Chris Williams – however, thoughts during the day were with the family of Brand Jnr after his sudden death on the eve of the tournament.
The Ryder Cup winner, who also won twice on the Staysure Tour, passed away during the night, and an emotional minute’s silence was held in his honour on the 10th tee at 12:35pm, when he would have teed off at London Golf Club for the opening round of the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship.
McKenzie, who finished tied fifth at last week’s weather-affected Senior Open, qualified for the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship via Monday’s aualifying event.
And while Steve Smith was resucing the Aussies’ first innings at Edgbaston in the first Ashes test, McKenzie carried his form into the opening round, where he made seven birdies without dropping a shot on the International Course.
“I drove down Sunday night and got in at two o’clock Monday morning and then came through Monday qualifying, which was really windy,” said McKenzie.
“So, the fact there was no wind today made the course a lot easier.
“I haven’t been at the top of a leaderboard for a while now. I’ve been playing okay at the last couple of tournaments on the Champions Tour in America and I had a nice week last week, so I’ve brought that form along with me.
“I would say my shot of the day which I’m most pleased about was my tee shot on the eighth – my 17th – across the water and I hit a six-iron into four feet. I played well. I kept it in play and didn’t get in any trouble.”
South African Williams has two runner-up finished already this season but is in prime position to strike, having signed for an opening round of 66, to sit a shot behind McKenzie.
Welsh pair Stephen Dodd and Phillip Price shot five-under par rounds of 67 to occupy third place alongside Sweden’s Magnus P Atlevi and another Australian Peter Fowler.
The second round begins at 7.45am, with McKenzie aiming to continue his assault on the course at 8.55am.