A lost ball on the final hole cost Italy’s Giuseppe Cali dearly at sun-soaked Collingtree Park as he saw a potential three stroke lead trimmed to one over American Alan Tapie going into the last round of The Mobile Cup on the European Seniors Tour.
The 52 year old from San Carlo had birdied the 15th and 16th to ease clear of the field, but he blocked his tee shot at the 18th and the ball hit the cart path and disappeared. Cali, who had hopes of closing with a birdie four, had to settle instead for a double bogey seven and an eight under par total of 136.
Tapie followed his opening 68 with a three under par 69 for 137 while Scotland’s Martin Gray stayed in contention with a level par 72 for 139. Northampton-born Bob Larratt enjoyed his home town surroundings by signing for a 67, equalled only by Ireland, Eamonn Darcy, and the pair are nicely placed on 140 and 141 respectively.
Cali spent ten years on The European Tour without registering a victory, despite 12 successes nationally within Italy. He said: “My last win was 11 years ago and that is too long! I was very pleased with the way things were going and maybe I tried just too hard at the 18th as I felt I could reach the green in two and make birdie.
“That would have given me a very nice lead, but now I have let three or four other players back into the tournament. I am very angry because one bad shot has been very costly.”
Tapie, whose solitary Seniors Tour win came in the 1999 Elf Seniors Open, made rapid strides by holing a 130 yard wedge for an eagle two at the third hole and followed it up with a birdie at the fourth. He dropped two strokes at the seventh and 13th but rallied to birdie the 14th and 18th.
“I am in a good position – better than I expected before Giuseppe played the last ole” said the Californian.
Eamonn Darcy stepped up his bid to claim his first victory on the European Seniors Tour with a second round 67.
Darcy’s title ambitions have been thwarted several times in the past. He was a runner-up twice in 2002, again in 2003 and earlier this season missed out again in a play-off against Gerry Watine in the Nokia 9300 Italian Seniors Open.
“Maybe I am due a turn” said Darcy ruefully. “I’m disappointed that the greens are so slow this week because I don’t have the conviction to hit the ball hard enough. If I could, then I feel a 62 could be on around this course, and that’s probably what I would need to win tomorrow.
“I’ve played the front nine well both days but scrappy on the back nine. I was hitting it close all day and my 15 footer for birdie on the 16th was my longest birdie putt of the day. All the others were from close range, which is encouraging going into the las round.”