Andrew Oldcorn equalled the 36 hole tournament record in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth Club then admitted he regards two European Tour titles as scant reward for 17 seasons on The European Tour, unbroken other than by illness in 1989.
The 41 year old Scot fired matching 66s for a 12 under par total of 132 to take a two stroke lead into the last two rounds of a Championship played in front of record crowds under a blazing sun.
Oldcorn leads a trio of players, first round leader Angel Cabrera of Argentina, Australian Stephen Leaney and Phillip Price of Wales, all on 144, with England’s Steven Webster on nine under par and Scot Dean Robertson on eight.
Although on the wrong side of 40, Oldcorn derived encouragement from Colin Montgomerie’s pre-tournament assertion that his best days may still be ahead of him, citing Mark O’Meara’s two Majors at the age of 41 as inspiration.
“I read in the paper yesterday that Monty was quoting that Mark O’Meara was 41 when he won his first two Majors. I was 41 this year and I still feeling capable of winning here. I still have ambitions I have not achieved.
“I feel I’ve failed in certain areas of my career and I still feel I have a reasonable amount of longevity left in me. So, I have the desire to do it. No doubt about it.”
Since winning the Qualifying School in 1983 to join The European Tour, Oldcorn has won the 1993 Tuespana Masters-Open de Andalucia and the DHL Jersey Open. That return from almost 300 Tour events still “rankles” as he put it succintly.
Asked about the shortage of titles he admitted: “I would wholeheartedly agree. It is something that rankles with me, no doubt about it. I feel I’ve been in position (to win) since then – a classic example would be in the Murphy’s Irish Open in 1996 when I double bogeyed the last to hand it to Monty.
“There have been other situations, and I think you try to learn from those situations. You try to play yourself into position like I am now. I don’t feel nervous. I don’t feel that I shouldn’t be where I am. I just want to take it forward and do my best over the next two days and not let myself down.”
Oldcorn had led the tournament once before in 1988 after shooting an opening 65 but he has never finished higher than 16th in 1993 in his previous 15 Volvo PGA Championship appearances.
Cabrera, who equalled the course record of 63 in the opening round, was sailing along serenely alongside Oldcorn at 12 under par after holing a 25 footer for an eagle at the 12th.
However he slipped back with a bogey at the 14th followed by a triple bogey seven at the 15th where he found trouble in trees and a bunker. In true Cabrera style, he bounced back with three birdies to finish and said: “I am still in there fighting. I’m confident, even with that triple bogey. I only hit one bad shots but I only made one mistake.”
Leaney, with a round of 64 – the lowest second round in the Volvo PGA Championships held at Wentworth Club, swept into contention after some hard sessions on the range with his coach, Denis Pugh.
“This is my lowest round for 18 months” said the TNT Open champion. “I’ve been struggling the last two or three weeks. I didn’t come here with high expectations after two missed cuts but it just suddenly clicked on the range on Thursday afternoon.”
Price tagged a solid 69 onto his opening 65 to join the group on ten under par late in the day and described his effort as “workmanlike” rather than spectacular.
Robertson, who led the Championship with five holes remaining three years ago – and blames himself for allowing Colin Montgomerie the opportunity to win three times in a row – overcame a brush with disaster at the 18th to post a second successive 68.
The Scot hooked his second shot at the last over the top of the Hospitality Units and into the information stand. Robertson was able to go to the drop zone and made a closing par.
There were good days for Nick Faldo, who shot 66 for 138 around a course he can play with his eyes shut, assisted by a monster birdie effort at the short 14th. Starting the day in joint 60th place, the six-times Major Champion finished it sharing 14th position along with a host of top names including Vijay Singh, who carded a 65.
One stroke better off are 1999 Open Champion, Paul Lawrie, who trimmed a shot off his opening 69, and Denmark’s Thomas Björn (68-69) while top players to make the cut were Ian Woosnam (139), José Maria Olazábal (140) and defending champion Montgomerie (142).
But with the cut falling at 143, one under par, and equalling the lowest 36-hole cut score in the Volvo PGA Championship, there will be some notable names missing from the final two rounds. European Number One Lee Westwood missed by three shots while major champions Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros will also be absent.