Japan's Seiji Ebihara moved one step closer to winning his third European Seniors Tour title of the 2002 season when he carded a seven under par 65 to open a three shot lead after the third round of the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at the De Vere Carden Park resort in Cheshire.
The Japanese golfer, who has already won the AIB Irish Seniors Open and the Wales Seniors Open this season, and also tops the Seniors Tour Order of Merit with almost £130,000, goes into the final round on fifteen under par 201 and almost out of sight of all but one of his nearest rivals.
His nearest challenger is the impressive American, George Burns, who carded a six under par 66 to finish alone in second place on 12 under par 204.
Scotland's John Chillas, Australia's Mike Ferguson and England's Ian Mosey share third place on 208, with another Englishman, John Morgan, alone in sixth place on 209.
Ebihara started the third round on eight under par 136 but quickly moved deeper into the red numbers. The 53 year old from Chiba had birdies at the first, the eighth and the ninth to go out in 33 and then stormed home with four further birdies at the 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th. He has now gone a total of 39 holes without dropping a single shot.
"I have had some good tournaments in Europe this season but that is probably the best round I have played," said the Japanese golfer. "I hit the ball well and putted good. It was a lot of fun."
Burns, a winner on both the European and USPGA Tours, came into this tournament on something of a low after having shot 84 in the Qualifying for last week's Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard in Northern Ireland but quickly bounced back.
He moved into a share of third place after opening rounds of 72 and 66 and then jumped one place further up the leaderboard with a second successive 66 that included seven birdies and just one dropped shot when he three-putted the 395-yard par four 10th.
"All in all, I played some pretty good golf," said the man who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida. "I'm very excited about it.
"Last week was a bit of a disaster. At one point, I thought I was going home last Wednesday, but I went to Waterville for a few days and that made me feel a lot better.
"Obviously, Seiji will start tomorrow as favourite, but at least I'm close enough to put a bit of pressure on," he added.
South Africa's Bobby Verwey carded a three under par 69 to finish the third round on three under par 213.
The former Senior British Open champion holds a won shot lead over England's Tommy Horton in the race for the £950 Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize. Horton handed in a one under par 71 to end the day on two under par 214.