Australia’s Ian Stanley goes into the final round of this year’s Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, with a wonderful chance to win his second 72-hole European Seniors Tour title of the season.
But to do it the amicable 52 year-old from Melbourne will have to stay ahead of a congested leaderboard that includes the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
Yesterday Stanley recorded a fine one under par 70 to go into the final round on four under par 209. He goes into the final round with a one shot lead over New Zealand’s Bob Charles and America’s David Oakley with England’s John Morgan and Scotland’s Russell Weir one shot further adrift on 211.
Jack Nicklaus will also have a great chance to win his first title on British soil since the 1978 Open at St Andrews. The Golden Bear recorded a two under par 70 to go into the last 18 holes tied alongside Bob Charles, Simon Owen, Bobby Verwey and Brian Huggett and he might even have been better placed was it not for an untidy finish to his round that saw him drop a shot on the 17th and then only match par at the par-5 last.
Stanley won the recent De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at the new Jack Nicklaus course at Carden Park and he now has the chance to do the European Seniors Tour 72-hole double after a brave two under par 70 that included four birdies but also a damaging triple bogey on the 225-yard eight hole.”
“That was a bit of a blow but I was determined to put it straight out of my mind and I was able to get back on track when I birdied both the 12th and the 16th coming home,” he said.
“At the start of the season I set myself the target of winning either the PGA Seniors or this tournament. I have already done the first bit so this would be a bit of a bonus.
“But there’s still a long way to go,” he added. “This is a tough golf course and anything can happen over the closing 18 holes.”
Stanley will be keeping a watchful eye on all his nearest challengers but the man he might fear most is 61 year-old legend Jack Nicklaus, who proved that he is far from being a spent force when returned a two under par 70 that left him just three shots behind the leader
Nicklaus was in excellent form as he attempted to win this prestigious title at the first attempt. He opened with a birdie at Co. Down’s treacherous 502-yard first hole, dropped shots at both the second and the third but then bounced back with three birdies in the next five holes.
The man who has won a record 18 major titles got it to three under par through 70 holes but then uncharacteristically dropped a shot at the 17th and then failed to get a birdie on the 528 yard18th
“ That finish hurt,” he said. “I was in a position to get close to the lead in the golf tournament but then dropped what I consider to be two shots over the last two holes.
“But overall I played a pretty good round of golf. I hit a couple of loose shots but for the most part played pretty well.
“I look forward to being in contention tomorrow,” he added.
Further down the leaderboard the round of the day came from former American Walker Cup player, John Grace, who stormed into a share of 12th place after a four under par 67 that included four birdies in his first seven holes.
Grace, who won three times on last season’s European Tour, birdied the first, second, fourth, seventh and 12th and dropped his only shot of the day when he missed the green at the 421-yard 13th.
“That’s the best round I’ve had in quite a while,” he said. “This kind of golf favours me. You have to keep it straight. You’ve got to pitch and putt well and those tend to be my strengths.”
Ireland’s Arthur Pierse will go into the final round with a two shot lead in the race for the amateur medal.
The former Irish international from Tipperary recorded a third round 75 for a 12 over par aggregate of 225 which puts him two shots ahead of Norman Swenson Jnr, a scratch handicapper from Charleston, South Carolina.
Pierse also qualified for all four rounds at the recent US Senior Open at Salem, Mass, where he finished in a tie for 55th place.