Frenchman Gery Watine birdied the last two holes to take sole possession of the lead in the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship and set up a potentially memorable final day.
Watine celebrates his 51st birthday on Sunday and should he triumph at De Vere Carden Park he will also become only the second Frenchman to win on the European Seniors Tour.
He staked his claim for the title with a third round six under par 66, to lead by one stroke from Italian Giuseppe Cali, who fired a 68. Australian David Good is a shot further back after returning a 66.
Scotland’s Sam Torrance carded a 66 to lie seven off the lead.
Said Watine: “I have played very bad for the last four weeks. I came back home after the Senior British Open, where I missed the cut, and I found something to work on. I have a little more confidence now. So I feel better, I just want to play each shot at a time.”
Watine finished joint third in the Open de France Seniors earlier this year for his best finish on the Seniors Tour. Only France’s Jean Garaialde has tasted victory on the Tour, in the 1992 Leman International Senior Trophy, and Watine would dearly love to add to that.
“It would be great to win. I need it so that I can play on the Seniors Tour next year where I am very happy playing. I need some good result to keep in the top 30. If I win it is just great,” said Watine, who leads on 14 under par.
The Frenchman holed a 25 footer on the par four last for a birdie, and a 15 footer on the 17th for a birdie two. He managed to keep a bogey off his card over the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout.
Cali, like Watine, joined the Seniors Tour last year and is also looking for his first win.
“I started off a little shaky but held things together. It’s great to be in contention,” said Cali, who made four birdies on the back nine.
Australian Noel Ratcliffe, who broke the course record with a 62 on the opening day, and was joint leader at the start of the third round with Japan’s Seiji Ebihara, fell back with a 75 and is tied with Torrance.
Ebihara, who won the 2002 De Vere PGA Seniors Championship with a Seniors Tour record of 21 under par, came in with a 71 and is three off the lead along with Jamaican Delroy Cambridge.