Marc Farry shot the lowest round of his European Senior Tour career to take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Cannes Mougins Masters - and then admitted he did not expect to play well this week.
Farry, who started the day four strokes behind overnight leader Des Smyth, has been heavily involved in organising the inaugural event at Cannes Mougins, which limited his practice in the build up to the €250,000 tournament.
After an opening round 69, the Frenchman made a blistering start to his second round with a hat-trick of birdies, initiated by a huge 40ft putt on the first hole. He then added five more birdies and dropped just one shot – when his drive nestled behind a tree on the seventh hole – to card a seven under par 65.
“I was ill last week and didn’t really practice because I had too much on co-organising the tournament so I didn’t expect to play this well at all,” said the 51 year old. “I’m so pleased because I played only once last week and then getting here on Tuesday I’ve been so busy with the tournament that I didn’t practice as much as normal.
“It was a nice putting day today though – I wish I could putt like that every time. It will be a tough day tomorrow and I will require a lot of patience. There are many good players behind me.”
At ten under par for the tournament, Farry has a slender one shot advantage over former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr, who posted a round of 67.
Both players are chasing their second title of 2010 after winning the Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Fáilte Ireland and Matrix Jersey Classic respectively in June.
Farry said: “It would be fantastic to win in my home country. I will probably have more pressure tomorrow than in Ireland because of that but it would be great to win in front of all my family and friends.
“To win another tournament would also mean a lot to me. I will be fighting to do that tomorrow.”
Brand Jnr also had an explosive start to his second round, with four birdies in his opening seven holes and added four more birdies but also dropped shots on the eighth, 11th and 15th for his five under par round.
The Scot finished tied second behind David Frost in the Cannes Open at Cannes Mougins in 1984 and having also finished runner up in the previous Senior Tour event, the Casa Serena Open three weeks ago he is hoping to go one better tomorrow.
He said: “I played very, very well today and hit a lot of quality shots and holed some great putts.
“It helps knowing this golf course and I pretty much knew where to hit it and had a vision of the greens.
“I’m playing very well at the moment. I probably played better tee-to-green than I did in Jersey but I putted stupidly well there. I’m looking forward to playing with Marc tomorrow – we get on well and he’ll have a lot of support but that doesn’t bother me.”
Englishman Mark Belsham, who was third in the Czech Republic, shot a 70 to move to six under par, three strokes behind Farry, while a double bogey six on the 17th saw Irishman Smyth slip to a two over par 74 to lie five shots off the pace.
Like Farry and Brand Jnr, Smyth is chasing his second victory of the season having captured his first title since 2007 in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters last month.
“It was a much more difficult day today,” said Smyth, who had carded an opening round 65. “I gave away a few simple shots today. I three-putted 17 for a six, which was disappointing.
“I just never got any mojo going. I actually played alright and didn’t hit any destructive shots but just made a couple of mistake on the greens. I’ll be trying to shoot another low one tomorrow though.”
Carl Mason, who is chasing a record breaking 24th Senior Tour title, is in a group of four players on four under par along with five-time European Tour winner Barry Lane, Argentine Luis Carbonnetti and Peter Mitchell.