Friday, 19 March 2010
Scotland's Mike Miller edged one step closer to winning his first European Seniors Tour title when he carded a fine six under par 66 to claim a two shot lead heading into the final round of the Nigel Mansell Classic, presented by Sunseeker International, at Woodbury Park in Devon.

Miller, a former European Tour player from Torrance, near Glasgow, goes into the final round on eleven under par 133, two shots ahead of Australia's Terry Gale, who added a 65 to his opening 70.

England's Denis Durnian fired a fine five under par 67 to share third place with compatriot, Ian Mosey, and South Africa's Neville Clarke, while Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan equalled Gale's 65 to move into a share of sixth place alongside Chile's Guillermo Encina on seven under par 137.

Miller came into the second round without having dropped a shot during his opening 67 and he duplicated that feat 24 hours later by carding four birdies and an eagle.

The Scot made his first move when he hit an eight iron into nine feet on the 413 yard par four fourth hole and he also registered other birdies at the fifth and the ninth to go out in 33.

On the homeward nine, Miller, secured four consecutive pars before carding an eagle on the 469 yard par five 14th and birdie on the 486 yard par five 16th.

"I played beautifully out there today," said the Scot. “I don't think I made a single mistake. I hit 17 greens in regulation and the one that I missed was the 13th, where I was so close that I putted from the fringe."

Gale heads into the final round chasing what would be his third Seniors Tour title of the season. He won both the Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open and the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic and he gave himself a realistic chance to win again by playing his final 10 holes in seven under par.

The Australian's run started when he hit a five wood to two feet for an eagle on the 505 yard par five ninth. After that, he birdied five consecutive holes from the 13th to finish the day on nine under par 135.

Durnian also finished strongly as he claimed his share of third place alongside Mosey and Clark, as did Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan, who is still searching for his first win of the 2003 season after winning five times between 2000 and 2002.

O'Sullivan's move up the leaderboard started when he carded the first of five consecutive birdies on the 348 yard par four sixth hole. That run took him to five under par for the tournament and he made further advances when he birdied the 486 yard par five 16th and the 366 yard par four 17th.

"I played very well," said the 55 year old former Irish Amateur champion from Cork. "I took my chances when I got them and also got a great break when I managed to save par after driving into the trees on the 14th."

The best rounds of the day were carded by Englishmen, Nick Job and Carl Mason, who both returned championship record 64s.

Job started the second round in a share of 46th place after an opening 74 but shot up to a share of eighth place alongside New Zealand Simon Open and America's Hank Woodrome after carding eight birdies and 10 pars.

The club professional at the Richmond GC in London made his first move when he holed for a birdie on the 563 yard par five second. He also birdied the sixth, eighth and ninth to go out in 32 and then stormed home in the same number after further birdies on the tenth, 13th, 14th and 16th.

"I hit the ball well and putted solidly too," said the 54 year old Englishman. "I got a few bonuses, like the 40-footer I holed on the 13th, but, overall, it's what I would described as a relatively stress-free round. I would be quite happy with the same tomorrow.”

Job's 64 tied the Championship record set earlier in the day by England's Carl Mason.

The man who finished second behind Tom Watson at the recent Senior British Open had opened with a 78 but he shaved no less than 14 shots off that total with a blistering round in which he hit all 18 greens in regulation.

Mason carded a quadruple bogey eight on the 563 yard second hole in his opening round but he went some way towards making up for that horror story it when he birdied the same hole 24 hours later. He also birdied three consecutive holes from the seventh to go out in 32 before firing birdies on the 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th coming home.

"What a difference a day can make," said the relieved Mason, who moved up into a share of 25th place alongside Ray Carrasco, Baldovino Dassu and Malcolm Gregson..

"Yesterday, I couldn't do anything, but today I was as solid as a rock. I played great and I could even have score lower if I had taken a few of the other chances I had."

Former world champion Formula 1 driver, Nigel Mansell, the owner of Woodbury Park, continued to perform impressively in his first ever appearance on the Seniors Tour.

A two-handicap amateur, Mansell opened with a one over par 73 and improved on that by a shot with a second round 72. The former racing driver got off to a fast start with a birdie on the 457 yard par four opening hole. He dropped shots at the fourth, fifth and 11th but then got back on track with birdies on the 469 yard par five 14th and the 222 yard par three 15th.

"I hit some good shots but some sloppy ones, too." said Mansell. "I wasn't half pumped up, though. I don't think I have ever hit the ball so far."

England's Malcolm Gregson holds a two shot lead in the race for the 1,500 euro Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 and over.

Gregson added a four under par 68 to his opening 74 to go into the final round on two under par 142, two shots clear of Neil Coles and Bill Hardwick who shot 73 and 71, respectively.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOB, NickENG18-8
T2MASON, CarlENG18-3
T2LONGMUIR, BillSCO18-3
4COLES, NeilENG18-2
5DASSU, BaldovinoITA181
6MILLER, MikeSCO18-11
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