England's Keith MacDonald fired the lowest round of his European Seniors Tour career when he recorded a six under par 63 to move into a share of the lead with Australia's Terry Gale after the second round of the Monte Carlo Seniors Invitational at Monte Carlo GC.
The club professional at Goodwood GC started the round four shots behind his Australian rival but made up the ground with a wonderful round in which he recorded eight birdies including three over his last three holes.
The duo go into the final round tied on nine under par 129 after Gale added a two under par 67 to his opening 62. That puts them four shots ahead of America's Jerry Bruner who carded a 64 for a two round aggregate of 133.
Spain's Manuel Pinero continues to make a solid start to his career on the European Seniors Tour. He carded a 67 to add to his opening 68 and heads into the final 18 holes in a share of third place with England's Nick Job, New Zealand's Barry Vivian and America's Gary Wintz on three under par 135.
Gale and MacDonald played both the first and second rounds together and have spurred each other on throughout. The Australian went five ahead of his English rival at the start of the second round when he birdied from 30 feet on the 474 yard par five opening hole but MacDonald then gave him a taste of his own medicine when he birdied from 20 feet on the 160 yard par three 160 yard second hole.
Thereafter it was almost a match play situation as first one of them and then the other fired birdies at each other. Gale was still two ahead when they mounted the 16th tee but then watched as MacDonald finished his round with three birdies over the closing three holes.
"It has been a great couple of days and promises to be just as much fun tomorrow," said MacDonald. "It seem as if every time one of us did something the other fought back straight away.
"That's undoubtedly the best I have ever played on the Seniors Tour," he added. "I have been putting badly for most of the season but I have finally started to hole a few and that has made all the difference."
Gales said that he was delighted to add a 67 to his opening 62.
"It's never easy after scoring as low as I did yesterday but I hung in well and would have been even better but for dropping two shots when I lost a ball on the 213 yard par three fourth," he said.
"It hit a tree to the left of the green and disappeared down the mountainside. We didn't even bother looking for it because we knew it would be lost."
Pinero has been the steadiest competitor in the field over the opening two days. He has recorded 33 pars and three birdies over his first two rounds and would have been even better but for a succession of missed putts.
"It has been a bit frustrating," said the Spaniard who won nine titles on the European Tour and represented Europe in two Ryder Cups. "It is good not to be dropping shots but I would have been a lot closer to the leaders if I had holed a few more of the chances I have had."
England's Denis Durnian looks all set to record his eighth top ten finish of the 2002 season. He goes into the final in eighth place after returning a second consecutive one under par 68.
Australia's Ian Stanley and New Zealand's Simon Owen share ninth place on one under par 137 after carding a 69 and a 70 respectively.