sport

Langer leads in Wales

Bernhard Langer mastered difficult links conditions at the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl to shoot six-under in the first round and lead by a shot, with treble-chasing Colin Montgomerie seven shots off the pace.

A fast-running course at Royal Porthcawl created typical links conditions provided a much sterner test than many predicted, with only six men able to shoot under par.

Much of the pre-tournament talk surrounded Montgomerie, who was chasing a clean sweep of senior major titles after winning the Senior US Open and PGA Championship in his first year in the senior ranks.

However, the 51-year-old has never been a lover of links golf and he struggled to a one-over par 72 during the first round in Wales.

That leaves him seven shots behind German Langer, who is in the driving seat on six under and two shots ahead of second-placed American Bob Tway, with Englishman Chris Williams and Scotsman Andrew Oldcorn in pursuit.

With three rounds left to play it is a gap that can conceivably be overhauled, but Montgomerie has played down his chances and suggested the course is ill-suited to his game.

"This has never really been my sort of course if I'm honest with you. If I was to be brutally honest, I don't have a very good record in the Open Championship. Although I was second once," Montgomerie told www.europeantour.com.

"But I do prefer the American style of courses. This is guesswork and I'm not very good at guessing. So I've got to go back to the poker tables and guess a bit more and see how I go tomorrow.

\"It's very, very firm and fast, quite like Muirfield last year or even Hoylake back in 2006. If we don't get rain tonight, it might be even tougher.

\"But you've got to guess the right way out there, because that's what links golf is like in these conditions. Phil Mickelson managed it at Muirfield, so we have to do the same here.\"

Tway, who won the US PGA Championship in 1986, teed off in the morning and led the field for most of the day before Langer snatched the overnight lead with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, home favourite Ian Woosnam sits one shot behind Montgomerie after he recovered from three bogeys on the front nine to equal the Scot's score before another bogey on the 17th saw him drop a shot back.