The unheralded Kevin Spurgeon of England beat playing partner and former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance of Scotland by four shots in the final group on day two of the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters, earning him a three stroke lead going into the final round at Woburn Golf Club.
Spurgeon, who graduated from last year’s European Seniors Tour Qualifying School and has never won a professional golf event, shot a four under par 68 Saturday to move to nine under for the tournament.
Alone in second place is American Alan Tapie, who stormed through the field with the best round so far, a 66 which included eight birdies and two bogeys.
Tapie has won before, at the 1999 Elf Seniors Open, but this is unfamiliar territory for Spurgeon, whose best result to date came when he finished tied 14th at The 2001 Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open on The European Tour.
“I was apprehensive about playing with Sam today, but he was great and helped me along,” admitted Spurgeon, who was accompanied around the Duke’s Course by a large gallery.
But a birdie four at the first hole, where Torrance made bogey, settled his nerves and from then on the Bournemouth golfer revelled in the atmosphere. Further birdies were accrued at the opening two par threes, the third and sixth, and another at the par fourth eighth saw Spurgeon reach the turn in 31 strokes.
A double bogey six at the tenth made some in the crowd question whether the pressure of leading was getting to him, but Spurgeon delivered an immediate answer by birdieing the next hole.
And in fact it was Torrance who stumbled nearing home, throwing away three shots over the 16th and 17th before getting one back at the last to sign for a level par round of 72.
Spurgeon, who has recorded four top ten finishes since joining the Senior Tour in April, was delighted by his performance. “I really enjoyed it. Playing with Sam is a great experience. I have never played with him before or even someone like that. It was nice to play with someone as good as Sam.
“I am well pleased with my round and how I did it. I’ve yet to get the driver out and I might leave it in the car tomorrow so I am not tempted to use it!
“For now it is my wife’s birthday, so we are going out for a meal tonight and I will probably have a few glasses of wine, but that’s all. I need to get ready for tomorrow.”
Another player with a big day ahead is Tapie, who is second on six under after carding a 66 that represents his best round of the season.
The man from California said: “I made four birdies in a row and, of course, that made my whole round. I have been making plenty of birdies but I got a little more consistent on the back nine today. I felt a little bit more in control for some reason, I don’t know why. That is the nature of my game. My swing feels a little sloppy most of the time, but I play with it, that is what I do.”
Sharing third place with Torrance on four under par are England’s Gordon J Brand, Martin Gray of Scotland and Spaniard Emilio Rodriguez. England’s Mark James, who finished fourth at last weekend’s JELD-WEN Tradition in Oregon, is a stroke further back after a 71 with American Pete Oakley.