Nick Job and Steen Tinning stand between Ian Woosnam’s attempt to secure his second Berenberg Masters title at Golf- und Land-Club Köln, the course over which he triumphed in 2011.
Then, Woosnam overturned a two-shot deficit on the final day to prevail by two strokes, and the Welshman will have to come from behind again after a level par round of 72 saw him remain on five under par, one shot adrift of the leading duo of Job and Tinning.
Woosnam’s win two years ago was his last victory on the European Senior Tour and, if he can rediscover the form on the greens he showed on the first day in Cologne, the former Masters Tournament champion is confident of capturing his fifth title since joining the over-50 ranks.
He said: “I hardly holed a putt all day. I didn’t feel like I putted badly, I just kept misreading the lines. So it was a frustrating day on the greens, but hopefully things can turn around tomorrow.
“The wind was also tricky to read, because it was swirling all over the place. The sixth hole was a case in point – I thought I hit the perfect five-iron into the green, and it ended up way over the back. But I managed to get myself out of trouble nicely by chipping in, so that was a bit of a bonus.
“As always, the competition will really start on the last nine holes on Sunday, so I just hope I’m still there or thereabouts to mount a challenge. I’m looking forward to it, it’s nice to be in contention and if a bit of luck goes my way, hopefully I can get over the line like I did here last time. It’s going to be fun.”
You have to go back even further for Job’s last victory, which came at the 2008 PGA International Seniors.
But the Englishman has given himself every chance of ending his barren spell with a round of 69 which culminated in a sixth birdie of the day at the last hole.
He said: “I’ve played nicely for the last two days, so I’m very happy with my game. I’m driving the ball well, which is the key because it’s a testing track, especially from the tee. The greens are also very difficult to read, so it’s certainly not easy out there.
“My swing is starting to feel much better now – I’ve been working on changing a few components for a while now, and it’s finally starting to come together. I haven’t been in contention for quite a while, so it’s nice to be up at the top of the leaderboard and I’m excited about what tomorrow might bring.”
Playing his first full season on the Senior Tour, Tinning is the junior partner the final grouping, but the Dane is arguably the most in-form member of the trio.
Having finished in a tie for fourth place on his first start of the season in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship, he recorded top 20 finishes in his next two outings before finishing in a tie for 26th at last week’s Senior Open Championship, where he closed with a morale-boosting round of 70.
Tinning, who will compete in an ‘Iron Man’ event next weekend, built on his solid recent form with a round of 70 which included four birdies.
He said: “I felt very comfortable out there again today. I’m striking the ball well, and my all-round game is pretty solid. But I’m probably most pleased with the mental side of my game. I tend to over-think everything, but I’ve been structuring my thoughts much better so that I can focus on what’s most important.
“So I’m thinking well and as a result I’m playing well, which is a good combination. I left a couple of shots out there on the back nine, so I know I can score lower tomorrow. But I’m right where I want to be going into the final day. I feel much better physically than I have for a while, because I tore a muscle in my left ribcage and so haven’t been able to practice as much as I would’ve liked for the last two weeks. But I’m almost pain-free now, which is great news.”
The lowest round of the day was posted by Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin, who signed for a 67 to climb to five under par alongside Woosnam and overnight leader Greg Turner of New Zealand, who carded two double bogeys in his round of 74.
Home hero Bernhard Langer also endured a difficult day, but rallied with a closing birdie to finish in a share of sixth place on four under par alongside Italian Costantino Rocca, Thai ace Boonchu Ruangkit and Japan’s Massy Kuramoto.