Ireland’s Des Smyth carded a superb six under par second round 66 to take a share of the lead in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club.
The 59 year old racked up seven birdies and one bogey to sit level at six under par with Spaniard Juan Quiros, who birdied the last for a four under par 68.
Both men are chasing their fifth Senior Tour title, and it will be an intriguing battle in Sunday’s final round, with Australian Peter Fowler – last season’s Order of Merit winner – and American Tim Thelen two shots behind.
Another American, Mike Cunning, was a further shot back, having bogeyed four of the last five holes to relinquish his lead.
Smyth, whose second round score was bettered only by Englishman Mark James’ 65, which took him up to a share of fifth place on three under, was delighted to be in contention over Woburn’s Duke’s Course.
“I played very well today,” he said. “I started off making birdies early on, which was what I needed to do. I birdied the second from 15 feet, and the fourth and fifth were both birdies from about 12 feet. I got another at the ninth to be out in 31, which was excellent. I was feeling great and swinging the club well.
“I got it going again on the back nine with birdies at the 11th and 15th. I was rocking then, but I made a silly bogey at the 16th, missing a five footer. So it was nice to finish with a birdie and get back to six under.
“Yesterday I also had a good start with a few birdies, but I felt like I had the handbrake on all day. I was playing well but I couldn’t get the ball close enough to the hole. If you don’t get it to around the 12 feet mark, you’re looking at an outside chance. Some days they come, but you don’t expect to hole them.
“So today I got a lot more shots closer to the hole, which was the main difference. Tomorrow should be an exciting day.”
Quiros has had four top-15 finishes this season, but has struggled in the last few weeks and was happy to see an improvement today.
“From tee to green I was very good today,” said the 56 year old. “I played very steadily. I drove it a little better today and I putted well again, which is very pleasing.
“I’m excited about tomorrow, but I’m not getting ahead of myself. Golf is a funny game and you never know whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad day until you turn up and start playing. You can feel good one day and play badly the next, so we will see.”
Englishman Roger Chapman, who has won two Senior Majors this season, and Spaniard Manuel Piñero were awarded honorary membership of Woburn Golf Club by the Duke of Bedford on Friday evening.