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Hail, Cesar: Monasterio's 61 is the talk of the Toon

The conversation was hardly flowing.

Sam Torrance could not believe he was nine shots down after five holes on the course he designed. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Sport
Sam Torrance could not believe he was nine shots down after five holes on the course he designed. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Sport

Cesar Monasterio and Katsuyoshi Tomori barely speak a word of English. Mind you, some of the Scottish scribblers occasionally struggle with the intricacies of the language too.

There could have been plenty to blether on about, of course. Monasterio, an Argentinian rookie on the European Senior Tour, illuminated proceedings on day one of the SSE Scottish Senior Open at Fairmont St Andrews with a sparkling 11-under 61 while Tomori, a veteran son of the land of the rising sun, did his best to cling to the leader's coat-tails with an eight-under 64.

The pacesetting pair were the talk of the Auld Grey Toon. The talk after the roon', meanwhile, was a sight to behold as the golf writers, with pens poised forlornly, battled to winkle out a quotable word let alone a sentence amid a bumbling frenzy of broken English, shrugging shoulders, elaborate hand gestures and smiling, awkward acceptance.

The phrase "no speak English" is second only to "I'm afraid you'll have to pay for your lunch" on the list of utterances that the golfing media fear most. We must brush up on our Spanish and Japanese.

Monasterio let his clubs do the talking over a Torrance course that was there for the taking on a benign, overcast day that was absolutely ideal for low scoring. By the end of it, 40 players from a starting field of 72 were under-par. Santiago Luna, the defending champion from Spain, was one of 23 players who finished over-par, however.

It was Monasterio who set a quite shimmering standard and his 61 equalled the all-time lowest score on the European Senior Tour. It was very much a case of Hail, Cesar and the sheer quality of his round would not be lost in translation. At 50 years young, Monasterio is something of a new kid on the golden oldies block and he is relishing this new chapter in his sporting life. "Especially today with no wind," said a smiling Monasterio, who highlighted a superbly crafted round with a raking putt of 50-feet for an eagle 2 on the fifth before starting his back nine with a run of four straight birdies.

As the red numbers continued to be rattled up on the leaderboard, the rest must have felt like they were wheezing on behind with their nibbies. "I got to the fifth and was one-under and then saw that I was f***ing nine behind," said Sam Torrance in his usual, colourful way after opening his campaign with a 71 over the course that he designed.

Tomori, a 59-year-old from Okinawa, reeled off eight birdies in a 64 that was his lowest round to par in 65 appearances on the European Senior scene. He finished it with a flourish and trundled in a 30-footer for birdie on the 17th. "My putting was very good but that was my best one," he said.

Tomori has enjoyed some memorable moments in the home of golf. Back in 1999, the multiple winner on the Japan Golf Tour beat the then Open champion Paul Lawrie on the 19th hole in the Dunhill Cup over the Old Course. "I always liked the links golf; you have to be clever," he added.

The English duo of George Ryall and Mark Davis opened with a 65 and a 66 respectively to sit third and fourth while Ian Woosnam, the former Masters champion and Ryder Cup-winning captain, began with a 68 as the sub-par rounds poured in. The Scots got themselves in on the act too, although the three-under 69s from Ross Drummond and Gordon Brand Jr left them lagging a whopping eight shots off the pace in a share of 13th. "I saw what Cesar had shot when I was on the sixth and thought 'bugger that'," said Brand Jr. "There's nothing you can do except focus on putting your own decent score together."

Drummond, the four-time Scottish PGA champion who finished third in July's Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, was left equally aghast at the majesty of Monasterio.

"11-under was a hell of a round," said Drummond who dug into the memory bank to report that the lowest round he had posted was a 63 during a Scottish PGA championship back in the dim and distant past. "In terms of conditions, it was as good as you'd get it. No wind, receptive greens. I thought a seven or eight-under might have been possible if you had everything firing but 11-under? That's just one of those perfect days really."

Barry Lane, the Englishman who has prospered north of the border down the years with a Scottish Open win on the main European Tour and a pair of Scottish Senior Open titles, joined Drummond and Brand Jr on the three-under mark while Andrew Oldcorn, the former PGA champion, hirpled his way round to a 70.

"My knee is causing me problems and I could hardly walk at the start of the week," he said. Oldcorn shot a 61 on the Senior Tour in Germany last season. Yesterday, it was Monasterio's turn to shine. In any language, it was a superb effort.

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