Barry Lane overcame a dramatic final hole, in which he lost his ball amidst heaving crowds, to maintain his shared lead in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club alongside Boonchu Ruangkit.
The Englishman fired a three under par 69, including six birdies, to finish on top of the pile for the second day running, having shared a first round lead with Sam Torrance.
Lane, who is chasing a second successive European Senior Tour victory after his win at the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open two weeks ago, looked to have suffered a disastrous end to a superb round when he attempted to drive the green at the par four 18th.
The huge gathering crowds were on the edge of their seats as he looked to have made it, only for his ball to hit the trees and disappear out of sight, but he did manage to get up and down from his provisional tee shot to rescue a hugely important bogey.
“Obviously I wanted to go for the green and it was off the right so I teed up on the left side of the teebox and I actually hit it absolutely fantastic but it was a foot right of where I wanted it to go and it just clipped the trees,” explained the 51 year old.
“I presume it’s till up the tree somewhere! There were so many people around and it didn’t seem to drop but it was a good five in the end.”
Despite that hiccup, Lane was happy with his round, which started perfectly thanks to birdies at the first and second holes.
A bogey on the third hole meant he briefly dropped off the top of the leaderboard in a dramatic day which had many twists and turns, but he managed to book himself a place in the final group for tomorrow’s last round at Woburn thanks to birdies on the 13th, 14th and 17th holes.
He will join Ruangkit, who carded for a bogey free round of 68 after birdies at the second, 10th, 16th and 17th holes put him in a perfect position to challenge for his first title of 2011 after such a stunning debut season last year.
The Thai, however, dismissed suggestions that his return to form had anything to do with the fact that he picked up three Senior Tour Awards, the 2010 John Jacobs Trophy, the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year Award and the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award, at the Senior Tour Awards Dinner on the eve of this tournament.
“I felt nothing different this week to previous weeks but I went out there today to just play with a game plan, to get the ball on the green in regulation and give myself plenty of birdie chances and be patient with my putting,” said Ruangkit.
“I’m very happy to be playing well in front of all of these fans and my game has felt really good this week.”
Gordon Brand Jnr shot a four under par 68 to put himself to within a shot of the lead after he hit five birdies and just a single bogey in an outstanding front nine at the Buckinghamshire venue before a level par back nine saw him finish on seven under par.
His fellow Scotsman, Torrance, fell four shots behind having shared the first round lead with Lane after a back nine that included bogeys at the 13th and 15th holes and a double bogey at the 16th.Senior Tour Order of Merit leader Peter Fowler was two shots behind Brand Jnr and tied for fourth place alongside Welshman Mark Mouland and Juan Quiros on five under for the tournament.