Australian Peter Senior takes a four stroke lead into the final round of the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn as he looks to win only his second event since turning 50.
A five under par 67 took the four-time European Tour champion to eight under par 136 and four clear of Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone, who slipped up with two dropped shots to close to gift Senior a sizeable lead.
Senior, fancied by many at the start of the week after his fourth place on his debut two weeks ago, has won 26 times around the world and now looks odds on to claim his first title on the Senior Tour.
“In 30 years of playing I have never lost the love for this game and I am just excited to competing again,” said Senior. “I have been waiting a long time to get out there and play competitive golf and I am looking forward to having a run at it.”
Five birdies without a dropped shot have put Senior firmly in control. “I played very well,” he said. “Maybe started a bit rough but the last 14 holes I played really, really well. I have been playing well at home and have been looking forward to coming out here.”
Johnstone was right on Senior’s tail and only one behind with two to play. But loose drives on both the closing holes proved costly.
“It was a disasterous finish,” said Johnstone. “You can’t afford to hit drives like that. I had been playing really well and driving the ball well so the finish is very disappointing.”
David Merriman, cheered all the way by members of the David Merriman Appreciation Society, came in with a 69 to move into third place.
With shouts of “Shot Dave”, the rallying call of his merry band of followers, echoeing among the pines, the Australian moved up the leaderboard with five birdies and two dropped shots, the two on the second identified as the best of the bunch.
“It was awesome,” he said of the support from the group of spectators, all wearing green David Merriman Appreciation Society t-shirts. “It’s just a great feeling, pumps you and spurs you on knowing there are people out there really pulling for you. I can’t wait until tomorrow.”
Ian Woosnam reignited his Senior Tour Order of Merit challenge with a three under par 69. The Welshman, who needs a top ten to regain pole position in the race to finish Number One, birdied three of his opening five holes and got himself into red figures with a fourth birdie of the day on the 11th. His only error came on the 16th, when he drove into the fairway trap, but at level par for 36 holes the former Ryder Cup Captain is back in the hunt.
“I played really well today but couldn’t read the greens,” he said. “It could have been a very low score but the greens, while they are very good, are also difficult to read. I had a lot of good chances and it has got me back in there.”
Woosnam also reverted back to his old clubs after trying a new set in the first round. The move was prompted by the need to “break in” some new irons with the new groove ruling coming into force next year, but after an opening 75 he decided to stick with his existing irons for a little longer.
The battle to finish Number One is heading towards a straight fight between Woosnam and Sam Torrance and the Scot, who needs to finish in the top four to move to the front, shot a second round 74 to fall back to one over par.
One under for the round with five to play, Torrance’s hopes were dealt a blow with a double bogey on the 14th and then another dropped shot on the 16th.