America's David Oakley moved into poll position to win his second European Seniors Tour title in the space of three weeks when he carded a two under par 70 to open a three shot lead over Australia's Rodger Davis and England's Keith MacDonald heading into the final round of the Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe.
Oakley, who won his third European Seniors Tour title at the recent Energis Senior Masters at Wenworth, and who has now recorded eight successive under par rounds, started the final round with a two shot lead over Australian rookie Rodger Davis. He lost that advantage when he bogeyed the 421-yard par-4 first and Davis birdied the 396-yard par-4 second but regained the initiative with a glorious 5-iron to within six inches of the hole at the 181-yard par-3 ninth.
Thereafter, it turned into a war of attrition with both players having to cope with a strengthening wind gusting up to 25 mph. Oakley made the next move when he birdied the 571-yard par-5 14th and he went further ahead when he also birdied the 398-yard 17th. He did drop a shot into the teeth of the wind at the 422-yard par-4 18th but so did Davis after he missed the green and failed to get up and down.
“It was tough out there," said the former furniture sales manager from Orlando, Florida. "All day long, Rodger was hitting it much further than me but I stuck to my game plan and hung on.
"Let's face it, there not much else I could have done," he added. "There's no point in me trying to hit it further because I know I can't."
The best round of the day came from England's MacDonald, the head professional at the Goodwood GC in Surrey, who continued what has been a highly successful rookie season with a five under par 67 that left him alongside Davis on six under par 138.
MacDonald, whose family hail from Strathpeffer, Scotland, and whose father led after the first round of the 1962 Open at Royal Troon, got onto the European Seniors Tour after finishing in 20th place at last year's Qualifying School at the PGA Golf de Catalunya. He won £23,250 after claiming a share of fourth place in just his fourth start of the season at the lucrative Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David's and has since gone on to record a further three top-10 finishes.
"That finish did an awful lot for me," said MacDonald, who came into the Scottish Seniors standing in 22nd place on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit with £49,961
"My goal at the start of the season was to fight my way into the top-50 on the money list and retain my Tour card for next season but after that finish I was able to relax and start to enjoy my golf a bit more.
"I'm now a lot more confident than I used to be in this environment," he added. "In fact, I'm having a ball."
Behind MacDonald, Welshman Craig Defoy is in fourth place on five under par 139 after carding a second round 69. England’s John Morgan shares fifth place with Ireland’s Denis O’Sullivan on 140 and Russell Weir is the leading Scot after recording a one under par 71 that put him in a share of seventh place with England’s Nick Job and Brazil Priscillo Diniz.
At the other end of the leaderboard, Australia's Noel Ratcliffe made a disappointing defence of his title when he missed the cut that fell at four over par 148.
Ratcliffe, the No. 1 on last year's European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, and the winner of this year's Beko and De Vere Hotels Seniors Classics, did the damage when he opened with an eight over par 80. He shaved eight shots off that score during the second round but still missed out by two shots.
Among the other leading name to miss the cut was England's Denis Durnian, who went into this event in second place behind Australia’s Ian Stanley on the official Order of Merit with earnings of £145,173.
Durnian, from Manchester, started with a solid two under par 70 but then slipped to an 80 to finish on six over par 150.
New Zealand's Simon Owen (77-73), Spain's Antonio Garrido (73-78) and England's Brian Waites (73-80) also dropped out as did Victor Garcia, the father of Sergio, who headed home early after adding a 76 to his opening 75.
A big battle is brewing over the concurrent £500 Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading golfer over the age of 60.
America's Jay Dolan 111 and Canada's Bill Hardwick go into the final round tied on two over par 146 after a 74 and a 76 respectively. South Africa's John Fourie is also lurking one shot further behind on 147 after a second round 74.