A career spent battering and clattering at a little dimpled ba’ can bring plenty of pleasure but a fair dollop of pain too.

Forget the Staysure Tour. The European over-50s circuit could be re-branded the Stay Sair Tour as various players hirple, hobble, groan and grimace their way around the course.

At times, you half expect some of the more redoubtable campaigners to leaf through a Haynes Manual on the 14th and do some running repairs on a dodgy hinge, sprocket, piston or crank that’s hindering the back swing.

“Age is not on our side,” winced 62-year-old Ross Drummond who posted a spirited one-under 70 on a tough, testing first day of the Scottish Senior Open here at Craigielaw.

At 50, meanwhile, Paul Lawrie is a young ‘un among these golden oldies but the 1999 Open champion’s creaking bits and pieces are well-documented. They reared their menacing head again yesterday but didn’t prevent him from inching his way to the top of the leaderboard.


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Lawrie, who is a rookie on the senior circuit and is slowly finding his form again after a long spell on the sidelines after surgery, carded a three-under 68 in the blustery, boisterous conditions to finish a stroke clear of Tom Thelen of the USA and the Spanish duo of Miguel Angel Martin and Jose Manuel Carriles.

“Every day is the same and with five or six holes to go my back starts stiffening up a bit and I have to prod it can’t hit it the way I want to,” said Lawrie of those aches and pains.

“But I’m just getting old. You have to make as many birdies as you can early on before the back stiffens up and you start hitting it all over the place. But this was good, It was tough.

“My attitude is good on days like this; just get it on the green, get the ball back in your stance, take the speed off it and chip it in low. That’s what you have to do and my record in this type of weather is good. There’s no defence and on every shot you’re battling the weather.”

It was a decent day at the office for Lawrie and one highlighted with a raking putt of some 30 feet on the 12th for a birdie. That came just after he had made a hash of the 11th when a birdie chance turned into a scramble to save his par.

“That was shocking,” he added. “I was only chipping an 8-iron in and hit it way right. That was disappointing on a par-5, but to make a birdie after that was very good. This was a decent start. We’ll need a few of these (if he is going to stay at the top). But I’m ready for that.”

Drummond, the four-time Scottish PGA champion who never managed to win on the main European Tour after nearly 25 years at the coalface and has had a few near misses on the Senior Tour too, is well aware that the clock is ticking on his playing days.

A sturdy 70, though, kept the morale up. “This is my 13th year on the Senior Tour and you do wonder where the time goes,” said the Paisley-born veteran. “It does get a bit wearing when you’re not performing.”


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Joining Drummond on the one-under mark was the evergreen Bill Longmuir, who gained a good lump of international prominence 40 years ago when led the 1979 Open after day one at Lytham.

The 66-year-old Scot was perched proudly at the top of the leaderboard yesterday after reaching the four-under mark though 11 holes with a classy display illuminated by an eagle on the ninth where he holed his second shot from just under 100 yards.

Just when things are coasting along swimmingly, golf has a habit of throwing a spanner in the works. “I three-putted the 13th and the wheels came off,” said Longmuir who would spill three shots on the run-in.

Nevertheless, this was still a good stab from Longmuir who splits his time with professional duties at the Royal Westmoreland club in Barbados during the winter and Les Bordes in the Loire Valley during the summer. It’s not a bad old life eh?

Longmuir has won eight times on the Senior Tour and won the Scottish Senior Open at The Roxburghe back in 2004.

“I didn’t think I’d still be out here on the tour 16 years later,” he said of the passing of time. “I’ve still got a game though and if I can get the putter going, you never know what can happen.”

Ian Woosnam dropped five shots in four holes from the 12th in a one-over 72 and was joined on that score by Helenburgh’s defending champion Gary Orr.

Sandy Lyle leaked five shots in four holes on his back nine in a 74. It can be a sair fecht.