Former Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand is in with a chance of victory on his European Seniors Tour debut at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in the Swiss Alps, after some consistent golf left him three shots off the lead shared by South Africans John Bland and John Mashego, American Jerry Bruner and Noel Ratcliffe of Australia.
The Englishman only turned 50 last Saturday and wasted no time in launching his career as a Senior golfer, travelling out to Golf Club Bad Ragaz where he opened with a three under par 67 on Friday. He followed this up with a 68 on Saturday to leave himself well placed on five under par going into the final round.
“I am pleased with my consistency. My game has been really steady. I have putted well and kept it out of trouble, though I will probably have to reach something like 12 under if I am to win tomorrow,” remarked Brand, who represented Europe in The 1983 Ryder Cup Matches and formed part of England’s winning Alfred Dunhill Cup team of 1987 alongside Nick Faldo and Howard Clark.
Another satisfied player was 59 year old Bland, who was the biggest mover on day two, climbing from 18th place to tied first after a six under par round of 64 that was only blotted by bogeys at the par three 17th and tricky par four 18th.
The South African had started at a blistering pace, carding five birdies to reach the turn in 30. He picked up further shots at the 10th and 13th, both par fours, and thoughts were beginning to turn to the possibility of him matching the magnificent 59 he once shot over the par 72 ERPM golf course in Johannesburg.
But, like many before him, Bland tripped up over the closing holes and had to settle for a 64.
The same fate befell the big-hitting Bruner, who had started the day with a three stroke lead after a course record equalling opening round 62. The American, nicknamed ‘Mouse’ after the cartoon character Mighty Mouse in recognition of his size and the prodigious distance he hits the ball, looked to be consolidating his position at the top of the leaderboard with some steady golf before taking seven at the 478 yard par five 16th and a bogey five at the last, mistakes that were split by a birdie two at 17.
These slips meant Bruner ended with a level par round of 70, which dropped him back into a four-way tie at the head of the field.
Meanwhile, Horacio Carbonetti remains in with a strong chance of claiming his third Bad Ragaz title in a row. The Argentine is two strokes back after a second round 67 took him to six under for the tournament. Like Brand, he feels 12 under is the likely winning score.
“I have been consistent, 67 yesterday and today, but to win again I maybe need a 64 tomorrow. I will try my best. I like the course and to win here three times would be great,” said Carbonetti, who trails his brother Luis by one shot.