Birdie man Frost gets away to flying start at MCB

The MCB Tour Championship could be in danger of becoming a procession if South African David Frost produces another round of golf like his opener on the Belle Mare Plage Legend course today.

David Frost at MCB Tour Championship, Mauritius

David Frost

Frost, who was runner-up in the tournament to Tom Lehman 12 months ago and had won the MCB Senior Open over the same course in 2010, was on supreme form, making nine birdies on his way to a magnificent eight-under-par 64.

The 53-year-old who spends most of his time on the US Champions Tour, had only one blemish on his card as he built up a three-stroke lead to take into the second day. That was at the tricky par-four 12th, where he pulled his approach to the left of the green and failed to get up and down.

Otherwise, it was Frost at his most confident as he birdied four of the first six holes, added another at the eighth, picked up three more in a row from the 13th and rounded the performance off with birdie number nine at the 18th.

‘I am very happy with that,’ he said. ‘I made some nice putts and I got lucky with one from 35 feet at the third. Otherwise I hit the ball close and made the putts.

The Legend golf course

‘The greens are in fabulous condition and that made putting enjoyable. The course has improved a lot over the last two years and there is not so much grain on the greens as in the past. But ‘it’s never over until it’s over and I’ve played enough to know you can’t take anything for granted in this game.

Constance Legend golf course, Mauritius

Constance Legend golf course

‘Tom had a great start last year but I managed to catch him and had a chance to tie him on the last hole, and I came back against Roger Chapman and won in a play-off in 2010. I had been leading before that but then Roger put pressure on me.

‘That’s how the game can affect you. It’s a good start but I have to keep playing and stick to my game plan.”

Steve Van Vuuren in second spot

Another South African starts the second day tomorrow, Saturday 8 December, in second spot. Steve Van Vuuren signed for a five-under-par 67 that included six birdies and he said it was the change to a belly putter that had made the difference to his game. Van Vuuren followed the advice of Ian Woosnam and tried the putter out for the first time in the South African Senior Masters and promptly took the title.

‘I switched to a belly putter last week. It was the first time I had tried it and it worked nicely again today.’

Tim Thelen in 3rd

American Tim Thelen lies one stroke back in third place, despite being less than comfortable throughout most of his round of 68.
‘I’m pleased with my score. I putted well, otherwise I would not have had a 68,’ said the three-times 2012 winner who had a mixed card of seven birdies and three bogies.

‘I couldn’t find my swing for the first nine holes and it wasn’t until the 15th that it suddenly felt good and I finished much better with birdies at 17 and 18. If I can start that way in the morning I’ll be a lot happier.’

Popular American Jerry Bruner sent out a reminder that there is still life in the old dog yet with a creditable three-under-par 69 to share fourth place with Australian Peter Fowler and Englishmen George Ryall and John Gould.

Tough start for Lehman and Chapman

But there were disappointing starts for favourite Tom Lehman and double Major winner Roger Chapman. There were five birdies for Chapman but an ugly double-bogey at the 12th spoiled a promising card and he finished at two-under, level with Barry Lane who is aiming to consolidate his position in second place in the order-of-merit.

And defending champion Lehman had a difficult time on the greens, relying on a final-hole birdie to finish with a one-under-par 71.

‘I didn’t putt well. It was as simple as that. I was playing pretty well, except for hitting a bad three-iron at 16, but all the other
bogies were three-putts. I found the greens faster than last year and it was difficult for me. But I won with a 71 in the last round a year ago so there’s a glimmer of hope.’

Catch up with all the news from the championship on the MCB Tour Championship website.

Daily catch up from the MCB Tour Championship

As the clock ticks to tee off on Friday 7 December, when the MCB Tour Championship at Constance Belle Mare Plage gets underway, we’re bringing you daily updates from the Legend golf course.

Roger Chapman at MCB Tour Championship, Mauritius

Roger Chapman

Get the inside track on who’s who at the championship with our daily golf gazette

Take a look at the full draw for round 1 at the MCB Tour Championship, where Roger Chapman and defending champion Tom Lehman have been paired together.

And for more news and daily articles, visit the MCB Tour Championship website.

 

Chapman and Lehman paired together

Roger Chapman’s coronation as European Senior Tour Number One at the MCB Tour Championship will start alongside defending champion Tom Lehman and former Ryder Cup player Barry Lane.

John Jacobs Trophy

Tom Lehman at MCB Tour Championship

Tom Lehman

Double Senior Major Champion Chapman will receive the John Jacobs Trophy at Constance Belle Mare Plage after sealing the Senior Tour Order of Merit title, starting the event with an unassailable €100,382 lead over Lane, who is trying to finish runner up for the second consecutive year.

Lehman won the MCB Tour Championship title last year by one stroke from South African David Frost, and the American will be looking for a similarly fast start to 12 months ago when he opened with a seven under par 65 to establish a first round lead of three shots.

Tee off on Friday 7 December

The trio will tee off at 10.50am on Friday and will be followed at 11.00am by the group of Frost, 2011 Order of Merit winner Peter Fowler and Tim Thelen, the American who is third in this year’s money list.

Englishman Paul Wesselingh, the winner of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship, is trying to overtake Fowler and break into the top four on the Order of Merit, and he will begin the final event of the 2012 season alongside SSE Scottish Senior Open winner Anders Forsbrand and Gary Wolstenholme, a two-time winner this year. Read more about Paul Wesselingh being named rookie of the year.

Denmark’s Steen Tinning kicks-off his Senior Tour career alongside Australian Mike Harwood and  Welshman Mark Mouland.

Read more on the European Senior Tour and MCB Tour Championship websites.

 

Golf: David Frost warms up with a win

South African David Frost warmed up for this year’s MCB Tour Championship at
Constance Belle Mare Plage in December with a victory on the USPGA Champions
Tour last weekend.

David Frost, golfer

David Frost

Frost came from 6 strokes off the pace on the final day of the AT&T Championship in San Antonio, Texas, to finish level with Bernhard Langer at the head of the
leaderboard.

He then outgunned the German at the second hole of the play-off to score a birdie that earned him the $277,000 first prize.

Frost, winner of the 2010 Mauritius Commercial Bank Open and runner-up in last year’s MCB Tour Championship, was not the only Mauritius-bound player on the
leaderboard.

Welshman Mark Mouland, twice a winner of the original Mauritius Open, stormed into the top 10 on the final day with a five-under-par 67 to share seventh place with
defending MCB Tour champion Tom Lehman.

Double Major winner Roger Chapman never got going and closed with a four-over-
par total of 220.

The action has moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the final tournament of the year,
the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, 1-4 November.

Golf MCB Tour Championship: Chapman desperate to go all the way this time

A couple of beers and a few glasses of wine was all that was needed to put life back on track for Roger Chapman after suffering the disappointment of having the MCB Seniors Open cruelly snatched from his grasp 12 months ago.

The 2010 Championship

Roger Chapman

Roger Chapman

After 17 holes of near-impeccable golf in the final round on the Legend course, the 52-year-old Englishman had all but won the tournament.

Seven birdies and 10 pars had turned a four-stroke deficit to overnight leader David Frost into a two-shot advantage as the 2 men arrived at the 54th and closing hole.

Chapman opted to do what any other player in his position would have done, which was to make par, leaving his South African rival the prospect of manufacturing an unlikely eagle to force a play-off.

The Englishman played his role to perfection. Unfortunately for him, Frost ignored the script, striking 2 magnificent blows and holing a 30-foot putt to take the title battle into extra holes.

The first of these, back along the 18th, ended with a pair of birdie fours but, playing the hole yet again, Chapman’s wayward drive into deep undergrowth opened the door for Frost, who needed no second bidding. For luckless Chapman it was yet another runners-up prize to add to so many he has accumulated over a professional career spanning 30 years.

Despite the disappointment, it took only a few moments for Chapman to compose himself before, in typically sporting fashion, he commented: ‘Fair play to Frosty. He did precisely what was needed and he’s a worthy winner.’

That evening, following the presentations, Chapman and wife Cathy were invited by Frost to join his table for dinner. ‘There were eight of us and it was a really good evening,’ he reflected. ‘We had a few drinks and before the end, the scars had healed.’

Highlights of 2011

Chapman arrives in Mauritius after a satisfactory season on the European Tour where he is 10th in the order-of-merit.

‘I played 10 events on the US Champions Tour in the first part of the year and only joined the Senior Tour in August,’ he said. ‘But I started with three top 10 placings in a row – a second, a third and a sixth. It would have been nice to have won but that’s the way it goes.’

Return to Belle Mare Plage

Legend golf course

Legend golf course

Chapman has been relishing his return to the Belle Mare Plage:

‘I like the Legend course,’ he says. ‘What Marc Farry and the sponsors have done to turn a relatively minor end-of-year event, albeit a thoroughly enjoyable one, into a top championship tournament is remarkable.

‘It is a perfect venue. You cannot fault the organisation and nothing is too much trouble for the management and the staff. The place is simply top class.’

The MCB Tour Championship offers Chapman a chance to go one better than last year and to end the season with a much sought-after victory.

‘I admit that I am desperate to win,’ he said. But he acknowledges that the challenge could hardly be tougher:

‘This must be the strongest field ever to be assembled on the island,’ he said. ‘The presence of Tom Lehman adds great value to the tournament and it will be interesting to see how he fares. To be honest, almost anyone in the field is capable of winning. If you play well and get into the competition early on, you can put yourself in the running.

‘But if you open with a 73 or 74 while others are posting 67s or 68s or better, it is going to be mighty difficult to get back into contention.’

Article written by Neil Webber, golf journalist