CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — Jay Don Blake shot a 4-under 67 to lead a powerful American show in the opening round of the British Seniors Open at Carnoustie on Thursday.
The score was sufficient to earn the 52-year-old Blake a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard alongside Germany's Bernhard Langer and England's Carl Mason.
But below that trio the only non-American in the next 17 places was Scotsman Sam Torrance, who shot a 2-under 69.
That was a remarkable statistic given that the setup of Carnoustie, widely rated as the toughest links layout on the British Open championship rotation, was so different to most of the courses on the Champions Tour.
As Blake said after a round containing six birdies and only two bogeys: "It's a golf course where you can't be aggressive because you can't fly the ball at flags like we are used to over in the courses we play in America.
"I have had to learn a whole new game which is fun; it's exciting but it's tough. I just tried to stay out of the death bunkers, as I call them, because it's a certain one-shot penalty getting in them."
Mason, playing in the afternoon when an awkward wind had subsided, was the only player to get to 5 under all day after a run of five birdies in six holes.
However, his chances of an outright lead were ruined when his 3-iron approach to the 10th hole ended with his ball plugged in the steep face of a greenside bunker.
"It was so bad there was no way I could get the ball out at the first attempt," he said after taking a double-bogey six.
Mason hit back with two quick birdies but after playing the closing four holes in 1 over when the wind had dropped, he denied he missed an opportunity.
"That is a very tough closing stretch," he said.
Among the Americans chasing the leaders were U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, with a 69, and past captain Tom Lehman, who shot 71.
Of the three former European captains in the field, only Torrance emerged from the first round under par and he will be hoping to complete a golfing double for his father Bob this weekend.
The 78-year-old was the coach who built Padraig Harrington's swing ahead of his 2007 victory at Carnoustie in the British Open.
With his game in poor shape, Torrance junior went home to his father early in the week to seek some advice.
"He's a great coach," Sam Torrance said. "He sees things that nobody else sees. He gave me a great swing thought and it worked. I would love to win here now at Carnoustie, but there is a long way to go."