Chile's Guillermo Encina carded his second successive four under par round of 65 to move into a two shot lead after the second round of the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David's in Harlech.
Encina birdied the third, the 11th, 13th and the 18th to post a two round agggregate of 130 and go into the final round two shots ahead of Australia's Brian Jones and America's David Oakley
Scotland Bill Longmuir also made a significant move up the leaderboard after carding a fine three under par 66 that left him in fourth place on four under par 134. However, it was a disappointing day for 68 year-old Neil Coles, who beat his age with a 65 in the first round, but dropped back into a share of fifth place alongside John Morgan after carding a one over par 70.
Encina came to Wales in sixth place on the Seniors Tour's Order of Merit and would jump up to first if he collects the £75,000 first prize. During the second, round he hit no less than 16 green in regulation, finishing the round off with a fine five iron to seventh feet on the 202 yard par three 18th hole.
"I feel as if I am playing just about as well as I can," said the Chilean, whose best performance to date on the Seniors Tour came when he finished second behind England’s Peter Townsend at last year’s Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open.
"I hit the ball great and putted well too. I would like to think I can do the same tomorrow."
Jones started the day in a tie for 17th place but moved into a share of second after a spectacular round that included six birdies and an eagle on the 481 yard par five seventh. His 63 equalled the championship record set by America's Alan Tapie in 2001.
"That was a good round of golf and it could have been better because I dropped shots at the third and the 15th," said the Australian. "But I'm not complaining. In fact, I am a very happy man. You’ve got to be after a round like that"
Oakley birdied both of the last two holes to move into a tie with Jones but it was a different story for rookie, Longmuir, who went to the turn in level par 36 and claimed four birdies coming home before dropping a shot after finding sand on the 17th.
"I feel so stupid," said the man who spent last winter practising at Greg Norman's home in Florida.
"I wanted to play the hole conservatively but my second shot bounced straight right into a bunker and I couldn't get up and down. It was a shame because I played very well before that."
Coles could not quite sustain the sort of form he showed while thrilling the crowds with his first round 65.
The Englishman started promisingly enough with six pars and a birdie on the 481 yard par five seventh but then carded the first of three bogeys on the eighth. He did claim another birdie with a two on the 173 yard ninth but dropped further shots on the 15th and 18th coming home.
"It was one of those days when nothing much happened," said the man who won last year's Lawrence Batley tournament at the age of 67 and 276 days. "I hit the ball nicely enough but a couple of poor putts let me down."
urned a 68 to finish the round in a tie for 13th place.
England's Jim Rhodes was another man who made a significant move, carding a four under par 65 to move into a share of seventh place alongside America's Hank Woodrome on two under par 136.
The former British Club Professional champion began his round by dropping shots at the 436 yard par four first and the 403 yard par four sixth but then responded with birdies at the seventh, eighth, tenth, 12th, 14th and 17th.
“The strange thing is that I don't think I played any better than I did when I scored a 71 yesterday," said Rhodes. "But I holed a few more putts and that made all the difference.”
Ireland's Des Smyth improved on his opening 70 by two shots but at level par 138 will need to make a big move if he is win on his Seniors Tour debut.
"I will need a ripper tomorrow," confirmed the 50 year old from Drogheda who has won $550,000 in 13 starts on this year's Champions Tour in the States. "I got it to one under par when I birdied the 11th but two poor shots cost me bogeys on the 13th and 14th.
"That set me back a bit,” he added. “However, I did birdie the last so at least I am still in with a slight chance."
The other debutant, England's Carl Mason, added a 68 to his opening 72 to go into the final round tied with Jerry Bruner, Eamonn Darcy, Priscillo Diniz, Seiji Ebihara, Martin Foster and Christy O'Connor Jnr on two over par 140.
"I hit the ball pretty well but couldn't get the putts to drop," said the former Scottish Open and Turespana Masters champion. "But a good round tomorrow can still land me a decent cheque."