By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Rockliffe Hall
A flawless nine under par 63 put Denmark’s Steen Tinning in pole position to claim his second victory of the season at the English Senior Open.
The 50 year old rookie, who won his maiden European Senior Tour title at the Berenberg Masters in August, would most probably ascend to the top of the Order of Merit with just three events of the season remaining were he to triumph at Rockliffe Hall on Sunday and he has every chance of doing just that after a formidable display of golf on Saturday.
Tinning’s heroics saw him seize a two shot lead over a trio of Spaniards with 18 holes to come as Santiago Luna moved into second alone after a second successive 67, a further two shots clear of countrymen Miguel Angel Martin (66) and Jose Manuel Carriles (69).
With more sunshine and excellent crowds at Rockliffe Hall for Moving Day, Tinning put on a box office performance in County Durham as a blistering back nine of just 30 blows – including a run of four birdies and an eagle at the long 12th in the space of six holes – helped him into a dominant position.
“Golf is a funny thing,” said Tinning “Yesterday I hit the ball really well and didn’t make any putts whereas today I was struggling a little with my long game, didn’t get irons going that well, but putted so much better and holed a lot of them after finding the sweet spot.
“To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would be capable of hitting this score on Wednesday when I saw the course for the first time because it's a fantastic test of golf.
“That definitely ranks up there in terms of my best competitive rounds. This year I have done well without ever really going low. I’ve felt like my game has been capable of doing that but it just hasn’t all come together – until now.”
Tinning is just €12,912 behind current rankings leader Paul Wesselingh with the season drawing towards its climax as the Copenhagen native chases not only the Rookie of the Year title but a maiden John Jacobs Trophy too.
“I would love to be on top of the Order of Merit, it’s what I’ve been working for,” he continued. “Whether that’s tomorrow or in three weeks’ time, I would love to do it.
“I’ve dealt with that in my mind and I think that is why I am relaxed this week. My philosophy all year has been to go and play a good round of golf and let’s see where it takes me and I think that’s one reason I didn’t get nervous today.”
Overnight leader Peter Mitchell did not fare so well on Saturday as a four over par 76 left him in a tie for 15th place – ten shots off the lead.
Rockliffe Hall chairman Warwick Brindle commented: "There was a real buzz at the back of the 18th as Steen was building his round. His back nine of 30 was electrifying and everyone here is thrilled that he's set a new course record this weekend. It has been a great day's golf and everything is set perfectly for an exciting climax tomorrow."