Friday, 19 March 2010
England's Maurice Bembridge had a hot putter to thank for his three shot lead heading into the final round of the STC Scandinavian Seniors International at Kungsangen GC near Stockholm.

The former Ryder Cup star used his shortest club a mere 25 times during his second round of 66 and that helped him to post a six under par two round aggregate of 136 which puts him in pole position to win his second European Seniors Tour title in Sweden.

Bembridge, who won his second and last Seniors title at the 1998 Swedish Seniors Championship at Fagelbro, goes into the final round three shots ahead of an international quartet comprising Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland, South Africa's Bobby Verwey, Australia's Ian Stanley, America's Alan Tapie and Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland.

Tapie, a former driving range owner from California, had started the second round in the lead after carding a 67 during the rain-delayed first round but dropped into a tie for second place after slipping to a one over par 72. Polland and Stanley tread water in the heavy conditions after carding second round level par 71s but Verwey advanced from seventh to second on the leaderboard with a two under par 69.

The South Africa also leads the race for the concurrent Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor over the age of 60.

"My putter certainly helped me today," said Bembridge, a member of four Ryder Cup teams during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"I don't hit the ball as far as some of the guys out here so my short game has to be sharp and it certainly was today."

Bembridge owed his 66 to the six birdies he scored at the 2nd, the 6th, the 9th, the 12th, the 15th and the 17th. They gave him the low round of the tournament but he might have had to share that billing had Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan not dropped a shot at the treacherous 426-yard 18th hole.

Nevertheless, the Irishman who won the recent Palmerston Trophy near Berlin still battled his way up to a share of sixth place alongside Beko Classic winner, Noel Ratcliffe, on two under par 140 and neither can be discounted coming down the stretch.

"It was a disappointing finish but I'm not too unhappy with what I have done today," said O'Sullivan. "This morning we had to resume our first round on the second green so we have had to play more than 34 holes in difficult conditions.

"I have hit the ball great and I could have scored even better but for the fact that I have had five or six three-putts during that stretch.”

Former Ryder Cup stars, Neil Coles, 66, and Brian Huggett, 63, both retired after starting their second rounds. The two players cited fatigue brought on by having to complete almost two rounds in one day

However, it was a much better day for Tommy Horton and Tony Jacklin, who are both returning to the European Seniors Tour after missing a number of recent events.

Horton, who finished No.1 on the Seniors Tour money list five times between 1993 and 1999, has been forced to miss the last two event suffering from a niggling eye injury but he bounced back with rounds of 71 and 73 for a two over par aggregate of 144.

Jacklin, the former Open and US Open champion, who is using this event as a warm-up before teeing up in next week's Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, added a 74 to his opening 73 but still made the cut with something to spare.

However, further down the leaderboard it was a different story for Scotland's David Huish, winner of two events on last season's circuit who missed out right on the bubble after rounds of 76 and 74.

Jim Rhode (77-75), Brian Waites (75-78) and Manuel Ballesteros (78-76) were also among the casualties.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BEMBRIDGE, MauriceENG18-7
2RATCLIFFE, NoelAUS187
3O'SULLIVAN, DenisIRL18-8
T4MILLER, MikeSCO18-4
T4MORGAN, JohnENG18-4
6POLLAND, EddieNIR18-3
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