England's Carl Mason upstaged both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson when he carded a six under par 64 to claim a one shot lead at the end of the second round of the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, at the Westin Tunberry Resort in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Mason, a former Scottish Open champion, was paired with the two American legends for the first two rounds, and proceeded to out-score both of them, carding rounds of 67 and 64 for a two round aggregate of nine under par 131, two shots ahead of Watson and four in front of Nicklaus.
He goes into the third round with a one shot lead over America’s DA Weibring and a two shot advantage over Watson, Bruce Summerhays and Tom Kite. Remarkably, another American, 62 year-old Jim Colbert, matched his age with an eight under par 62, jumping up for a share of 49th place into a share of sixth place with Scotland's Russell Weir. Colbert also overtook Nicklaus and Bob Charlesin the race for the £3,000 Hardys Wine Super Seniors prize, awarded to the leading competitor age 60 or over.
Mason went into the second round one shot behind Watson but made up that deficit when he birdied the 409 yard par four fourth and the 475 yard seventh on his way to going out in two under par 34. Coming home, he picked up four further birdies at the tenth, 12th, 16th and 17th before salvaging par after driving into the rough down the last.
"It was absolutely tremendous out there," a jubilant Mason admitted at the end of the round. "I played pretty nearly flawless golf. My 61 when I won the 1994 Scottish Open at Gleneagles was special but, under the circumstances, I would have to say that is probably the finest round I have ever played."
"It was a great honour to play with Jack and Tom," he added. "It isn't often you get to play with one legend, far less two. I'm just glad I didn't let myself down."
Weibring was another golfer who made the most of the benign playing conditions He opened with a 69 but ended the second round standing on eight under par 132 after shooting a scintilating 63 that was just one shot outside Turnberry's Senior British Open record set by South Africa's Harold Henning in 1990. It also tied the 63s shot by Mark Hayes in the 1975 Open and Greg Norman in the 1986 Open, albeit having been recorded on a slightly shorter course.
The 50 year old American began his round with three pars but then birdied the fourth, fifth and seventh to go out in three under 32. He carded five further birdies on the 12th, 13th 14th, 16th and 17th before dropping his only shot of the day when he drove into the rough down the last.
"I got started well and kept it going," was how the five-time US PGA Tour winner described his round. "I knew there was a good chance to shoot a good score out there and was able to do it."
"It's just a shame that I finished with a bogey but that's not going to spoil my day."
The round of the day came when Colbert matched Henning's Championship record with an eight under par 62 that included seven birdies, one bogey and an eagle on the seventh hole. "That was a lot of fun out there," he said. "Right after breakfast, I was talking to Peter Alliss and I said a low score was on the cards. Little did I know, it was me that was going to do it.
"Until today, I having been playing pretty good, I just wasn't holing the putts like I used to. Today, however, was different. Today, they didn't roll over the edge. They went in instead."
Ireland's Arthur Pierse is guaranteed his third successive Golf Medal, awarded to the leading amateur, after becoming the only part-timer to survive the cut. Pierse, a 52 year-old car dealer from Tipperary, carded a fine three under par 67 to finish the second round of one under par 139. The highlight of his round came when he holed a 100-yard wedge shot for an eagle on the 415 yard par four 10th hole.
The cut fell at four over par 144. Among those who missed out were John Morgan (73-72), Bob Gilder (72-74), Jose-Maria Canizares (72-74), Neil Coles (72-74), Tommy Horton (75-71), Delroy Cambridge (76-72), Arnold Palmer (76-77), Ian Stanley (79-74) and 1955 US Open champion Jack Fleck (81-80)
Fleck's consolation was that he matched his age with his 81 in the first round. The last time he bettered his age was at the 2002 US Senior PGA Championship at Firestone when, aged 80, he posted a seven over par 77.
Palmer was philosophical about his performance.
"I have been playing poorly so this is not a major surprise," said the 73 year-old American. "I thought maybe I could find something but it just wasn't there. My concentration isn't all that good these days. I make a couple of bogeys and everything goes to hell. I guess that's what's supposed to happen when you're as old as I am.
The 1961 and 1962 Open champion then added that he hopes to return to Scotland in the future.
"I enjoy being here and certainly have the time to come back," he said. "I'm a member at (Royal) Troon and have been since my Open win there. I've been invited back to St Andrews for the (R & A's) big anniversary and I may do that. I became a fully-fledged member of the R & A a few years ago."