Newcastle’s Ken Brewer is just a shot back of Sweden’s Mattias Pernheden after a rain-soaked opening day at the R&A Men’s & Women’s Senior Amateur Championships at Woodhall Spa Golf Club in Lincolnshire.
Brewer, courtesy of the early 7:30 am first tee time, mostly escaped the deluge to post a three-under-par 70 over the Hotchkin Course to grab the clubhouse lead.
And on a day when heavy rain, thunder and lightning wreaked havoc on most of the field, Brewer’s lead held up through two suspensions of play, including one to allow the green staff to squeegee waterlogged greens and the other for lightning late in the afternoon.
Brewer would be in sole ownership of the lead if it had not been for the Swede’s back-to-back birdies on the final two holes late in the evening.
Mother nature, though, was a clear winner on the day.
Brewer, however, missed it all.
The five-time winner of the NSW Senior Order of Merit was back in his hotel room while Mother Nature was venting her angst, happy with his work over one of England’s finest courses.
Brewer came within a whisker of breaking 70 on day one; his 12-foot birdie putt on the final green just slipped past the hole.
“I thought I’d made that putt at the last which would have been nice, but I can’t complain,” Brewer said. “I made a few putts, got it up and down a few times, so it was a fair score. I’m very, very happy. I putted really well today.”
Brewer, a retired accountant, is making his third appearance in the Senior Amateur, but this is his first appearance on a classic heathland course.
“This course is not similar to many courses in New South Wales, where I’m from, but there are a lot of similarities to some of the sand belt courses around Melbourne because of the bunkering.
“We don’t have heather, and that takes a bit of getting used to. At Newcastle Golf Club, if you hit it two metres off the fairway, you’re in the Australian Bush wondering where the snakes are and if the wallabies are looking at you.”
Brewer arrived in the UK with two wins this year; the NSW Senior Classic and the National Senior Masters. Even after a promising start, he’s not allowing himself to get his hopes up.
“I try not to have not to have a lot of expectations. I’m over here with my wife (Lisa, who’s caddying for him) for two weeks. I love coming to the UK. I love coming to this event. Regardless of what happens from here, it’s a great score to start the championship.”
In the women’s 2022 NSW Senior Amateur Champion and the reigning Australian Women’s Senior Amateur champion, Sue Wooster of Victoria, leads by one shot after a level par 73.
Wooster, the second-highest-ranked player in the women’s draw behind compatriot and current NSW Senior Amateur Champion Nadine Gole, was out in the last group of the day and saw the worst conditions.
Delays meant her round took six hours and 58 minutes. “It was a long day, but worth it,” said Wooster.
“I was a couple under after ten, and then that storm hit, and it was torrential rain. When I eventually hit my drive, it was into the wind, and my drive just went plonk. The conditions turned the hole into a par-five.”
“Because there had been so much rain the surfaces changed and I probably under clubbed a few times as a result. It’s hard to know how to play shots when the water’s sitting on fairways like that.”
Wooster warmed up for this event with a sixth-place finish in the European Seniors’ Championship, ninth in the English Senior Women’s Amateur Stroke Play and third in the Scottish Senior Women’s Open.
However, she had low expectations when she arrived at Woodhall Spa. “I haven’t been comfortable with my swing – I’ve been a bit crooked – so my expectations were low. But I think I got back on track today. Hopefully, fingers crossed.”
No Australian has ever won the men’s or women’s R&A Senior Amateur Championships.