England’s Kevin Spurgeon fired a five under par 67 to take a two stroke lead into the final round of the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open as David Frost also moved into contention for a debut European Senior Tour victory.
South African Frost, a two time winner on The European Tour, eagled the last hole to sign for a round of 70 and a share of second place with Englishman Nick Job, who posted a 69, but it was Spurgeon who holds the advantage as he searches for his maiden Senior Tour title
Spurgeon, whose late father Keith managed football giants Ajax in the 1960s, reached the turn in 32 after carding four birdies. The 54 year old picked up another shot on the 13th before his only bogey of the day on the 16th, when he three putted from 15ft.
Despite missing the 18th green to the left, Spurgeon finished his round on a high when he birdied the last, chipping to two feet from the greenside rough and holing a morale boosting putt to finish on six under par for the tournament.
“I played really solid and just had that one glitch on the 16th,” he said. “I putted really well today and holed some nice long putts – one nice 15 foot putt on the fifth hole to save par.
“I miss-hit my second shot on the last hole – I was in two minds what to do and should have probably chipped over the water but I went for it and came up short. The lie wasn’t great but I got away with it and stiffed it for a birdie. Apart from that, and the 16th, I didn’t do much wrong really.”
Spurgeon, who finished 31st on the 2009 Senior Tour Order of Merit after three top ten finishes, is trying to go one better than his previous best finish of tied second in the 2007 Irish Seniors Open.
The scorching Mauritian heat, which reached 32˚C, could play a factor in the final round, although Spurgeon feels confident he can cope with both the temperature and the pressure of leading.
“I’ve spent a week in Johannesburg and I’m going there for two months so I’m quite used to the heat,” he said. “My wife’s daughter lives there and we are going back for two months so the heat’s not a problem for me.
“The only problem could be concentration – if you have a bad hole especially. I’m playing well at the moment though and I felt confident coming into the week. It’s a new season and I’ve gone back to basics and I feel comfortable. Another round like that tomorrow and I should be OK.
“I had a great start to last season but then hurt my back in Scotland and I lost confidence. That’s back now. At least I’m in contention again. I’m just going to play how I did today. It would be great to get that first win – it’s going to happen soon and this is a good chance for it. I’ll deal with the pressure as I’ll go along.”
Frost, who is playing in his first Senior Tour event after turning 50 in September, will try to become the second consecutive debutant to win the opening event of the Senior Tour season after Mike Cunning’s victory in Brunei which kicked off the 2009 campaign.
The South African produced a steady round, with one bogey on the fourth hole and a birdie on the ninth, before igniting his challenge with an eagle three on the 501 yard par five final hole, stopping his five iron approach shot just ten foot from the pin.
“It was a good way to end the round after playing solid all day,” he said. “There were no major bursts like yesterday, I just kept the ball in play and holed some good putts.
“A 70 was the worst I could have done so I’m happy. I made a lot of pars and had a lot of putts for birdie.
“My game feels good. I thought as long as I wasn’t too far behind this week I’d have a good chance. Hopefully I’ll still be there with nine holes to go tomorrow. It would
be nice to win on my debut but you have to just play one shot at a time – there’s no point trying to chase somebody.”
Overnight leader Glenn Ralph is three shots off the pace on three under par after a 74 following a double bogey six on the 15th hole. The Englishman is in a share of fourth place with compatriot Peter Mitchell and Swede Peter Dahlberg, who signed for rounds of 73 and 70 respectively.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, the 2009 Senior Tour Number One, moved up to a share of 17th place on one over par following a 71.