A back nine of contrasting fortunes saw Italy’s Giuseppe Cali push hot favourite Sam Torrance into his shadow after the third round of the PGA Seniors Championship at The Stoke By Nayland Golf Club. The Italian compiled a superb 66 comprising seven birdies and a single bogey for a 17 under par total of 199 and goes into the final round with a three shot lead over Torrance and Argentine’s Luis Carbonetti.
In a scintillating outward half the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit holder, it seemed, could do no wrong, firing effortless shots into defenceless greens and rapping in five birdies for an outward half of 31.
But the Scot stumbled on the way back with three bogeys, the last a missed five footer on the par three 18th after extricating himself from a greenside bunker. He finally signed for a 71 and a 14 under par total of 202.
At the turn Cali was coasting along nicely with four birdies of his own, but he was still three behind his playing partner Torrance as they embarked on the back nine. A three putt on the tenth did him no favours either, but Torrance obliged him by doing likewise.
The turnaround began at the 384 yard par four 12th where Torrance missed the green right and failed to get up and down, while the Italian holed a monster putt of some 40 feet for a two stroke swing.
Whereas birdies had been plentiful in Saturday’s back nine, they dried up completely for the former Ryder Cup Captain. In contrast, Cali reduced both par fives, the 14th and 16th, to chips and close putts for birdies, and he left a birdie attempt on the final green in the jaws of the hole.
Carbonetti, who had begun the day tied eighth, proceeded to string together eight birdies, his only mistake coming at the toughest hole on the course, the tenth, where the players have to navigate a lake, first left then right, with their opening two shots. The Argentine carded an impressive 65, and is well in the mix for the final 18 holes.
Floridian Doug Johnson, experienced on the US Champions Tour but in his debut season in Europe, cemented his challenge with a 69 to move to 12 under par 204, finishing the third round as he had done the second, with a fine birdie at the last, where he had holed his lob wedge approach from clingy grass from 20 yards during the second round.
Scotland’s Bill Longmuir is tied with the American after two under 70 took him to 12 under as well.