Englishman Roger Chapman showed his class yet again as a five under par 67 in the second round of the French Riviera Masters gave him a one shot lead.
The 53 year old has won two Senior Major Championships this season and has an advantage of more than €80,000 at the top of the European Senior Tour Order of Merit, and now he could continue the fairytale at Terre Blanche Resort and Golf Club in Provence.
An eagle, four birdies and a bogey ensured Chapman goes into Sunday’s final round one shot in front of Chris Williams, who signed for a two under par 70, and two ahead of compatriots Bob Cameron and Paul Wesselingh and Australian Peter Fowler, the reigning Senior Tour Number One.
“I played very well today and I’m almost back to how I felt in the summer,” said the US Senior Open and US Senior PGA Champion. “It’s really pleasing. I went off the boil a bit after playing in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. It messed me up a bit. There was lots of wind and the course was 7,700 yards, which for a senior is so long.
“I felt as though I’d lost my rhythm and I didn’t play particularly well in America the following week, but I saw my coach Gavin Christie when I got back and then again at Woburn three weeks ago, and it seems like it’s just beginning to click again.
“It would be brilliant to make it a hat-trick of wins for the season tomorrow, but there are two or three guys playing well and it’s the type of course where anything can happen. You can be four or five behind with nine holes to play and win.
“But I feel really good about my game and very much in control, which is the main thing on this course.”
Williams had birdies at the first, fourth and 11th against a bogey at the par five sixth, and was delighted to be in contention heading into the final round at Terre Blanche, which is in the European Tour Properties portfolio.
“It was a steady day,” said the 53 year old, who is chasing his second Senior Tour title. “The greens were quite difficult and I didn’t knock too many putts in, but when it counted at certain moments, I holed one or two good ones for par.
“I only had one bogey and other than that it was very solid. I hit a lot more fairways, which made the round a lot easier. It’s a long walk round that course and quite tiring, but I’m only one behind a two-time Senior Major winner, so I must be doing something right.
“Tomorrow the aim will be simply to be in a good position with three or four holes to go. I’m just going to try to stay in touch with Roger, who is obviously playing really well this year. I’m sure he’ll be a tough competitor to beat.
“The emphasis is on your driving here. If you can drive it well you’ll always be in a safe position, but if you’re in the rough, it’s very coarse and it’s difficult to control the club face. The greens have been firm and quick, so it’s hard to make the shots you want to play if you’re coming out of the rough.”
American Tim Thelen had the best round of the day, a 66 taking him to two under par, while Gary Wolstenholme, the 2011 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year, enjoyed a 68 to also reach two under for the tournament.