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Friday, 19 March 2010
Liam Higgins capped a great day for the Irish with a Duke’s Course record-equalling 66 that puts him on top of the leaderboard with a round left of the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters at Woburn.

The 60 year old from Waterville is on eight-under-par 136, three shots ahead of Scotland's John Chillas and Brian Jones from Australia, with Sam Torrance joint fourth in a group on 140 and still not out of the hunt.

Higgins began the day three shots off the lead but raced ahead with birdies at the opening four holes to get to six under.

He was still on that mark at the turn before another birdie followed by an eagle-three at the 11th, where he chipped in from 20 feet, put him well clear.

The popular Irishman dropped two strokes on the homeward stretch but a birdie-three at the 17th
saw him edge three clear again.

"That was unbelievable," he said. "I just felt so confident out there that I just got up there and hit it. Don't ask me where it came from but I hit it close on the first four holes and I've got a different putter this week.

"I’ve for a new long putter which I've cut down from 39 to 33 inches and it's working really well. It's a couple of years since I last led on tour and I'm hoping I'll get the same feeling tomorrow."

Both Chillas and Jones were happy with their lot although neither felt they played well.

Chillas, who didn't drop a shot in his 68, admitted: "I got up-and-down to save par on three successive holes on the back nine and I'm just getting it round. I'm going out with 40 swing thoughts but I'm happy to be in the hunt."

Jones, who had four birdies in his 69, said: "I played well but I didn't putt good. You've got to be patient round here and I'm being that. I'm happy with the end result."

Torrance was going well at five under par after ten holes but he ran up a double-bogey seven at the 11th after hitting his second shot into a bush. After taking a penalty drop and chipping to the green, he three-putted.

However, he birdied the last for a 71 to stay on course for his first seniors victory. “I’ve still got a chance,” he said.

Also on 140 are Bill Longmuir (70), Ian Mosey (71), Eddie Polland (67), and Bob Shearer (69).

Polland almost made the same start as Higgins with birdies at three of the first four holes. He also birdied the eighth and ninth to turn in 30, the best front nine of the tournament.

He added another at the long 11th to get to five under but suffered his only bogey at the 440-yard 15th where he fired a nine-iron through the green and failed to get up-and-down to be home in 37 for the second best round of the day.

"I'm quite happy with that," he said modestly. "I'm still recovering from pleurisy which I've had for the past six weeks. I don't know how I got it, I can't even spell it, but it's left me weak and I'm only just getting my strength back.”

It wasn’t a good day for the overnight leaders. Keith Ashdown and John Mashego, who both started with 67s, had bad days at the office, Ashdown shooting 74 for 141 and equal ninth place, and South African Mashego skipping to joint 30th after a 78

Christy O'Connor Jnr, another not fully fit, bogeyed the last for 69 and to lie joint 20th on 143. "That was a terrible way to finish," he said. "I haven't played since the Seniors British Open because I've had tendonitis in my shoulder."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1O'CONNOR JNR, ChristyIRL18-4
T2DURNIAN, DenisENG182
T2MILLER, MikeSCO182
4HORTON, TommyENG185
5LEONARD, PaulNIR18-8
T6JOB, NickENG18-7
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