Frankie Minoza and Satoshi Higashi take a two stroke lead into the final round of the Handa Cup Senior Masters with double Major Champion Sandy Lyle among those chasing in Japan.
Minoza of the Philippines shot a second round 68 to move to 12 under par 204 with Japan’s Higashi joining him at the top at Ohmurasaki Golf Club with a 67 on the Senior Tour’s historic first visit to Japan.
Scotland’s Lyle compiled his third successive round in the 60s, the former Masters and Open Champion shooting a 69 to lie at ten under par alongside Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota and Masahiro Kuramoto. Overnight joint leader Andrew Oldcorn, also of Scotland, carded a 71 to lie in sixth place on 207, just three strokes off the pace.
Higashi, who chipped in on the ninth for an eagle, played with Lyle and defending champion Ian Woosnam in the 1996 Masters Tournament at Augusta National and said: “I really want to win, by mostly I want to enjoy tomorrow.
“I played with Woosnam and Lyle in 1996 at the Masters, and it is a great honour to play with them this week here in Japan. We have many good and strong players here.”
Lyle, runner-up last week in Perth, birdied the 18th to keep himself in the frame for a maiden Senior Tour title.
“It’s been a long time since I won in Japan, or on any tour for that matter,” said Lyle. “My last few seasons haven’t been great by my standards. Last week I finished second in Perth which was my best finish for a while, but I would like to improve this with a victory this week. Last week I was close, this week I am close again.”
Oldcorn, who went out of bounds on the 16th on his way to running up a bogey, was impressed with playing partner Minoza’s performance.
“Frankie was imperious out there,” he said. “That was the easiest 68 you’ll probably ever see. He’s a cool dude who just gets on with it – a great guy to play with. With his distance the course is an easy 68 or 69 for him.”
As for his own round, he said: “On the 16th I hit probably my worst shot in months. It was a terrible swing with my rescue club, straight into the air and out of bounds. Other than that I played well. I know I played well so I am not disheartened and I’m only a few behind.”