The legendary Gary Player, chasing a record tenth senior major title, produced a magnificent 66, six under par, to move within two shots of the leader Bob Charles in the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, at Royal Portrush.
The 63-year-old South African started the day seven shots off the pace but a blistering round, where he picked up six birdies and an eagle two by holing a five-iron second shot at the 416-yards 16th, puts him firmly among the leaders on two under. Player last won the title after a play-off two years ago to equal the nine majors he won on the regular Tour.
“I was trying to equal my age,” said the South African. “It was a real thrill to shoot 66 today and it looks great for tomorrow. Christy Jnr has the edge on Bob Charles and myself in terms of age but Bob and I will be battling hard.”
He trails left-hander Bob Charles, twice a former champion and the only left-handed winner of the Open, by two after the New Zealander similarly turned back the clock with six birdies in his round of 67 to move to four under par.
“I’m not old enough to shoot my age,” said the 63-year-old Charles. “My putting has been a bit shaky but I feel I’m swinging the club well. It’s going to be fun tomorrow.”
Tournament favourite Christy O'Connor Jnr, making his Senior British Open debut, eagled the ninth with a six foot putt and then birdied the tenth to move to three under and just a shot off the lead. His 15 foot birdie putt on the last for a share of the lead stayed on the lip as he finished with a round of 68.
After a level outward half the overnight leader David Oakley dropped a shot on the 12th to fall back to two under par but still very much in contention.
South Africa's John Bland, runner-up in 1997 the last time he played the Senior British Open, picked up two birdies on the front nine to lie alongside England's John Morgan who fired four birdies on five holes from the seventh, on one under par.