Swedish hotelier, Tomas Persson, heads into unchartered waters as he begins the final round of the Beko Classic, at the Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey, one shot ahead of an international trio comprising American, Pat Kaylor, Welshman, Brian Huggett and England’s Tommy Horton.
Persson, who owns a hotel in Ostersund, 400 kilometres north of Stockholm, has never led a Seniors Tour event before but, after his second successive 68, for an 8-under par aggregate of 136, he is confident that he can retain his lead and can go on to win the 54,989 euro (£32,120) first prize.
“This is a great experience for me,” said the Swede, who turned pro when he was 50 and whose best finish to date was a tie for 9th at last season’s Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland.
“I was nervous at the start but a par at the first settled me down and after that I was all right.
“The final round will also be something special. I know I will have to play my best golf to win, but I’m confident I can.”
Persson’s biggest threat might come from the Seniors Tour’s No. 1, Tommy Horton, who spreadeagled the field with a new course record 63 which included 10 birdies and one solitary bogey at the 357-yard 16th.
“That’s the best putting round I’ve had since the 62 I scored at the Scottish Open on the day before Diana died,” said Horton, who will go through the £1 million career earning barrier if he wins here.
“Last night I was concerned that I might miss the cut, but I shouldn’t have worried because today I holed almost everything in sight.”
Horton went on express his surprise at the low scoring during the first two rounds.
“This course is no pushover so to see all the golfers on 148, four-under par, go out is incredible.
“This has got to be the best golf I’ve seen on the Seniors Tour for a long, long time. It’s been obvious that the standard has been improving and now I’d have to say that it is at an all-time high.”
One victim of the improving standards was former Walker and Ryder Cup star, Michael King, making his debut on the Seniors Tour, who missed the cut after rounds of 75 and 76.
King appeared as if he might make the final round when he went two under par for his round after eight holes but he recorded two double bogies in his last five holes to miss the mark by four shots.
“I’m going to have to learn how to do this again,” a rueful King said at the end. “I hit the ball quite nicely but couldn’t score. It’s a shame because that 76 could easily have been a 71 or 72.”
Among the other players who missed the cut were Noel Ratcliffe (75-73), David Jones (75-73), Eddie Polland (76-73-149), David Huish (75-74-149), Bernard Gallacher (76-74-150) and John Garner (78-73-151).
Overnight leader, Norman Wood, made it, but only with five shots to spare after a disappointing second round 75.