Reigning Staysure Tour number one Paul Broadhurst joined four Americans at the top of the leaderboard after day one of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The Englishman, who won The Senior Open at Carnoustie in 2016, carded a three under par 67 to place himself in prime position for a weekend charge as he bids for his third Senior Major Championship victory in as many years, also winning the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2017.
The 53-year-old completed his round in twilight just before play was suspended at 9.15pm.
Earlier in the day, high temperatures eventually gave way to thunderstorms, which forced two suspensions in play totalling two hours and 45 minutes.
“I’d have taken that when I started – it took seven and a quarter hours to complete, so it’s been a long day,” said Broadhurst.
“I’m so pleased we got finished. I didn’t think we would complete the 18th and I wasn’t looking forward to going out at seven in the morning to play one hole.
“I haven’t started too many tournaments really well this season. I’ve been shooting one-overs and then having to make up ground on the second or third round. To get off to a good start is a nice bonus.”
Equalling the low round of the day on the Lancashire links were Americans Wes Short Jr and Scott Dunlap, while compatriots Scott Parel and Ken Duke—also on three under par—will close out their opening rounds tomorrow morning.
Playing in his first Senior Open, Northern Irishman Darren Clarke made a strong start to his title shot with a two under par 68.
The 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year is aiming to become only the fourth player in history to win both The Open and The Senior Open.
“It’s early to get carried away yet but I would love to get myself in there,” Clarke said. “I’m amazed there’s only three people that have done it, but certainly, it’s another Open Championship, and it’s one that I would love to win at some stage in my career.”
Colin Montgomerie also added his name into the mix as he began his pursuit of a fourth Senior Major, and first Senior Open crown, with a bogey-free two under par 68 to join Clarke, Americans Tom Gillis and Woody Austin, as well as Sweden’s Magnus P Atlevi in a tie for sixth place.
“My irons are good; that when I’m on the fairway – I should be making pars, and it’s one of these courses where par means something,” said 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie.
“It’s good that we come to courses as good as this that par does mean something, and I look forward now to the next days ahead because I know I’m swinging the club well. The putter was iffy today, but it didn’t really matter. Sixty-eight was a great start.”
Local knowledge did not pay off, however, for Ian Crowther as he carded an eight over par 78 after reaching the turn six over.
Fleetwood Golf Club’s Ian Taylor was one of those players affected by the delays and is five over with seven holes remaining of his first round.
The first round will conclude when the action resumes at 7.10am on Friday.
The second round tee times will continue as scheduled with Taylor due to start at 10.46am and Crowther at 11.24am.