American Dick Mast carded a second consecutive four under par 67 to take a four stroke lead at the halfway mark of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in Portugal.
The 59 year old, who finished third in The 2006 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry, sank a curling 12ft birdie putt on the par three fifth hole to kick-start his round before adding four more birdies to his card, dropping his only shot of the day on the 11th.
Mast’s eight under par total of 134 at Pestana Golf Resort’s Vale da Pinta leaves him in pole position to secure one of the 14 available cards, as he surged past compatriot and overnight leader Charlie Bolling, who followed up his opening round course record 64 with a three over par 74 to slip back to four under par, alongside Englishman Paul Wesselingh who carded a 67.
With two rounds remaining on Portugal’s Algarve, Mast knows he needs to remain patient if he is to succeed countryman Tim Thelen as winner of the Senior Tour Qualifying School.
“I didn’t hit it as well today but I managed myself better and I knew the course a little better,” said Mast. “I didn’t make any big mistakes today unlike yesterday when I three-putted three times and hit it out of bounds once.
“I scored well today for the way I hit it and hung in well. I was patient today which pleased me. The course is toughening up as it dries out and you need to have good position out there. With the position I’m in now it suits me as I can go for the middle of the green as I don’t always need to make birdie. If someone is trying to catch you they have to go for flags.
“I’ve quite a naturally aggressive player so I’ve been reminding myself to back off a little. But that can hurt you too as you need to play your game but I will try to play percentage shots aggressively over the next two days.”
With five of his compatriots Mitch Adcock, JC Anderson, Bolling, Zeke P Martinez and Kris Moe also contending for the all-important top 14 positions at the halfway mark, Mast is hopeful of a strong American graduation onto the 2012 Senior Tour following Thursday’s final round.
“There are more of us here this year and it would be nice to get three or four us through together so we can travel together,” said Mast. “It’s looking good so far.”
Five-time Senior Tour champion Delroy Cambridge is also on course to secure playing privileges for the new season after a second round 70 moved the Jamaican into joint fourth position with Englishman Steve Cipa on three under par.
Another former Senior Tour winner, 2009 Scottish Senior Open winner Glenn Ralph, is a further shot back in a share of sixth position, alongside Australian Tim Elliott and Englishman Jeff Hall