NORTH BERWICK, Scotland — Occupying the top of the leaderboard in the first round of a golf tournament means very little. But when you have never cracked the top 150 in the world rankings nor won on the European Tour after years of toiling between the developmental Challenge and European tour, then it does mean something.
Especially for 32-year-old Englishman Jack Senior, who shot a 7-under-par 64 at the Renaissance Club to lead the Scottish Open by a stroke over Lee Westwood.
Senior is unsure why his professional career has been laced with disappointment and frustration, and little success. As an amateur, Senior beat both Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in singles matches at the 2008 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
“If someone could tell me the answer, then I'd be willing to listen,” Senior said. “I'm just trying to work on my weaknesses as much as I can. I know I've got weaknesses, and everyone's got weaknesses. I played flawless golf out there today, and didn't really put myself in any trouble. So, when you have a day like that, you are going to shoot a good score.”
The opening-round 64, which featured eight birdies, was Senior's best round since a final-round 64 at the Portugal Masters in September.
In between, the results have been pretty much a mixed bag. He’s had only one top-10 finish, eighth at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open in late April.
Yet, Senior didn’t see his score on Thursday as all that surprising, as he believes he’s been trending in the right direction. Earlier in the week, Senior spent valuable face time with his coach, something that he has not been able to do much of due to the pandemic.
“I've won at every single level I've played at.,” Senior said. “I think that's something that I've always been good at. I can get across the line, and I feel comfortable when I'm at the top of the leaderboard. I don't shy away from the top of the leaderboard and when I'm out in front, I don't tend to back away.”
Senior believes he will have to keep the low scores coming because there's going to be very little wind over the next three days. While a win would be nice, finishing among the top three players not already qualified would get him a ticket to next week’s British Open at Royal St. George’s.
Betting on Senior, given his professional results to this point, would be difficult, but ask him why he keeps grinding and his response is a bit surprising.
“Because that would be quitting, and I'm not a quitter,” he said. “I never have been a quitter. I've always believed in myself and my ability. I can compete at any level that I turn up and play at. If I don't believe that, I wouldn't be out here playing. I mean, if someone said to me, ‘You're not good enough,’ then I'd always like to prove them wrong and hopefully I can prove some people wrong if I perform well over the next three days.“