Carl Mason will take a three shot lead into the final round of The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship after a scintillating five under par 67 at De Vere Slaley Hall.
The all-time leading Senior Tour money winner gave a masterclass on the greens to move to six under par 210 for the championship, with former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr and South African Christopher Williams his closest competitors on three under par.
After a suspension in play of four hours 40 minutes caused by heavy fog in Northumberland, Mason quickly found his stride, draining a 15ft eagle putt on the 12th hole – his third of the day. He then added five more birdies and despite two bogeys, including dropping a shot on his last hole, the Englishman is in pole position to capture his 21st European Senior Tour title.
“I putted beautifully,” said Mason, who celebrated his 56th birthday on Thursday. “My eagle on the 12th , my third hole, got me going and from then on I putted beautifully. Obviously I played pretty well too.
“I putted well the first couple of rounds too – yesterday I felt my putting stroke was better. I firmly believe that’s the difference every week. If you start putting well it’s amazing how much better you play. It’s a funny thing.
“I’ve not been putting well recently, for me. I know I’m a good putter and I’ve been going round in 34 or 35 putts and you can’t do well like that. As soon as you start rolling a few in you start feeling better and you play better.
“Everything in your game gets better as you’re not thinking about the putts. When I get in that mode I putt quickly and see the lines. The less you try the better you get and, for me, that works.”
Mason is chasing his third PGA Seniors Championship following his victories at De Vere Carden Park in 2004 and at The Stoke by Nayland Club in 2007, the year he won his third and last Senior Tour Order of Merit.
He is also looking to continue his remarkable run of winning in each of season since he joined the over 50s circuit in 2003 and close the gap on Tommy Horton’s record of 23 Senior Tour titles.
“I don’t mind being out in the front,” said Mason. “I’ve been able to take care of it most of the time and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow. I’ve very pleased with the way I am playing and I’m very pleased with the way I am putting, which is the main thing. “
Brand Jnr, who is looking to go one better than 2008 when he finished runner up to namesake Gordon J Brand after an epic six hole play-off, finished with a double bogey on the eighth hole and a bogey on the ninth to sign for a one under par 71.
Williams also carded a 71 to continue his fine Senior Tour debut having secured an alternate card at Qualifying School last November.
Overnight leader Angel Franco, who also started on the tenth tee, endured a difficult finish to his third round with a bogey on the eighth hole and a double bogey on the ninth for a one over par 73 to trail Mason by four strokes.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam is nine shots off the pace in a share of 17th place on three over par following a round of 71.
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