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The Englishman was going along nicely at -3 through 14 holes before a sensational eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie finish moved him past Adilson da Silva, who had posted the clubhouse lead of -6 about an hour earlier. The players took advantage of the hot conditions and virtually non-existent breeze as 17 of the 40-man field shot in the 60s.
Owen has battled injuries for much of his career, most recently surgery to repair his lower back that threatened his ability to walk properly again, let alone return to competitive golf. But the 51-year-old is fit and healthy – and improving with every event he plays. He started his year with a T45 at the Jersey Legends, followed by a T18 at the Irish Legends, before really finding his form by finishing T8 at the JCB Championship, T5 at Legends Tour Trophy and runner-up in the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship.
There’s only one place to go if he’s to continue that progression, and he’s delighted with the start he’s made in France: “My confidence is sky-high at the moment. I feel like I’m in control. There are a couple of drives I let get away earlier in the day, but I figured that out. I’m just enjoying playing. I feel confident on the greens. I’ve been playing professionally for 25 years and I’ve never said that before in my life. I feel good with my stroke and I’m working on something that’s working. I’m happy with everything, really.”
“I drove it really well and gave myself great chances,” he said of his incredible finish. “I hit a 4-iron on 15 to eight feet and rolled that in, I actually played 16 quite conservatively and layed up and hit a wedge to about 12 feet and holed that. 17 is another reachable par 5 so 4-iron to the middle of the green and two putts, and then a lovely wedge on the last from the middle of the fairway. That’s the key around here, if I can hit the fairways, it’s pretty short for me around here.”
Da Silva is 4th in the MCB Road to Mauritius and he led the way for much of the day. His bogey-free round of 65 started on the 10th tee and featured birdies at 11, 14, 17 and 18 in an outward half of 32 and the 3rd and 4th holes on the way home. The Brazilian has been something of a tree-lined course specialist this season with his two wins coming on very similar courses to Golf de Saint-Cloud at the Riegler and Partner Legends in Austria and the Swiss Seniors Open.
Keith Horne, who lost in a play-off to Da Silva in Austria, is 3rd on -5. The Qualifying School winner played the first six holes in -4 and had two birdies and one bogey on the back nine. Greig Hutcheon, Michael Jonzon and Markus Brier are tied-4th on -4.
Gary Orr, Phillip Archer and Joakim Haeggman are at -3, with MCB Road to Mauritius number one Peter Baker in an eight-way tie for 10th after starting with a 69.
Visit our website to see the full leaderboard, round two tee times and find out more about the WCM Legends Open de France hosted by Jean Van de Velde at Golf de Saint-Cloud