Scotland's Sam Torrance carded a fine five under par 67 to storm into contention after the second round of the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at the Roxburghe Golf Club near Kelso.
The former Ryder Cup captain improved no less than six shots on his opening 73 but will still have it all to do if he is win on his debut on the Seniors Tour. He goes into the final round on four under par 140 but still five shots behind Australia's Terry Gale who blew up a storm when he recorded a six under par 66 to claim a two shot lead on nine under par 135.
Gale starts the closing round two shots ahead of compatriot David Good who tied the Championship record with a seven under par 65. The second Australian is one shot in front of England's Nick Job who birdied the last for a one under par 71. England's Carl Mason shares fourth place with New Zealand's Barry Vivian on five under par 139 while Torrance was one shot further back alongside Jerry Bruner, Delroy Cambridge, Craig Maltman, John McTear, David Oakley and Bob Shearer.
Torrance admitted to deep disappointment after his opening round as a Senior but 24 hours later he was in a much cheerier frame of mind after carding seven birdies and dropping just two shots to par.
The Scot started his second round with a 20-foot putt for a birdie on the 439 yard opening hole. He also birdied the fifth and sixth before dropping shots at the ninth and tenth. At that stage he knew he needed a grandstand finish and he supplied it with four birdies in five holes from 13th before missing from seven feet for another birdie down the last.
"That was an awful lot better," said Torrance. "I would have to admit that I wasn't really in the slot yesterday but I hit the ball much better today and putted well too.
"Now it's down to a sprint tomorrow. I would have liked to have holed that putt on the last but at least I am going to be there or thereabouts."
The only cloud on the Scot’s horizon might well be the injured left knee that has kept him out of competitive action since the Diageo Championship at Gleneagles 10 weeks ago. Since then, it has been operated on by Nick Morgan, the son of former Welsh rugby star, Cliff Morgan, but it is still causing him some discomfort on the hard and undulating fairways at The Roxburghe.
“It’s still not quite right,” said Torrance, who admitted that he might not have exercised it quite as much as he should have done.
“After the operation, my surgeon told me to take it easy for a while. He didn’t have to tell me twice. However, I think my physio believes I have been following his advice a little too closely. I have been working hard on my game but I admit I have let the exercises slip a bit. Maybe, a little discomfort is what I deserve.”
Gale won twice on the Seniors Tour's Caribbean Swing earlier this season and he will be favourite to win again after a fabulous 66 saw him finish in sight of the £22,500 winner's cheque.
The Australian has finished tied sixth, tied fourth and tied second in his last three starts and his confidence was further boosted when he started the second round by posting birdies on 396 yard par four second and 177 yard par three fourth. He moved to the top of the leaderboard when he holed a 20- foot putt for an eagle on the 546 yard par five fifth and then added further birdies on the sixth and 11th.
"I have been playing nicely for the last few weeks but just haven't quite got the job done," said the 57 year-old from Western Australia. “Winning in Barbados and Tobago was fantastic but it would be a real bonus if I can go on and win here as well.”
Good's seven under par 65 tied the championship record set by America’s David Oakley back in 2001 but it could have been even better had he not dropped his only shot of the day down the last.
The Australian began his birdie barrage when he hit a sand wedge into two feet on the 396 yard par four second. He also birdied the fifth, seventh and ninth to go out in four under par 43 and then romped home 33 with further birdies at the tenth, 11th, 15th and 16th.
"I stuck a new Callaway Great Big Bertha 11 driver into the bag this morning and I can't believe the difference it made," said the winner of the 2001 Legends in Golf tournament in Holland. "I drove the ball beautifully. In fact, it might be the best I have ever hit it from the tee."
England's Tommy Horton lead the race for the £1,000 Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 or over.
The former five-time Seniors Tour Order of Merit winner carded a two under par 70 to go into the final round on three under par 141 and two shots ahead of Malcolm Gregson.