AMERICAN Gary Rusnak is the early clubhouse leader on the first day’s play at the English Senior Open at Rockliffe Hall.

Rusnak turned in a flawless display which included three birdies – at seven, 12 and 16 - to post a 69 which has powered him in to contention in the first round.

The 51-year-old’s position at the top of the leaderboard is already under threat, though. Englishman Jamie Spence and Argentine Cesar Monasterio are both four under through 12.

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Two Spaniards are also in contention. Jose Manuel Carriles and Juan Quiros are both back in the clubhouse after posting respective 70 and 71s.

Hurworth’s Roger Roper is set to become the first North-East golfer to emerge from the 18th green and he has work to do. After a bright start he stuttered to three over after 15 holes.