Bernhard Langer shot a 2-under 69 in wind and rain Thursday at Royal Porthcawl to take the first-round lead in the Senior British Open.
The 59-year-old German star had five birdies and three bogeys for a one-stroke lead over 64-year-old Carl Mason of England and Mauricio Molina of Argentina.
“I’m pretty pleased that I’m on top of the leaderboard at the moment,” Langer said. “Conditions were extremely tough, and not feeling very good physically. So, just glad that I made it through the day and I’m in contention.”
Langer has nine senior major titles, winning the Regions Tradition and Senior PGA Championship in consecutive weeks in May. He won by 13 strokes the last time the tournament was held on the south Wales course, finishing at 18 under in 2014.
“I do like the golf course,” Langer said. “You can be aggressive at times and you’ve got to be cautious at other times. I think my game plan is pretty good. It’s just a matter of executing the shots and the putts.”
Langer also won the 2010 event at Carnoustie.
Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie was two strokes at 71 back along with Americans Tom Lehman, Billy Mayfair, Tom Pernice Jr. and Billy Andrade, Australians Peter Lonard and Peter Fowler, France’s Jean-Francois Remesy and South Africa’s Chris Williams.
“You have to be very, very patient,” Montgomerie said. “I said that in the press yesterday. It’s the guy that can deal with adversity more than anybody that’s going to do well.”
Tom Watson and John Daly topped the group at 72.
“I’m extremely happy because I’m extremely lucky,” the 67-year-old Watson said. “I made some Jordan Spieth putts out there. I made a 90-footer on the first hole and about a 60-footer on 14 for birdies that you never make those, unless you’re Jordan Spieth.”
He has won the event three times after winning the British Open five times.