Englishman Philip Golding will take a slender one shot lead over Barry Lane into the final round of the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open after a two over par 74 at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club.
Golding began the day with a two stroke advantage over Welshman Mark Mouland after opening with his third consecutive round of 64 – a record on both The European Tour and European Senior Tour – but windy conditions on the north Wales coast meant he was never likely to reproduce that kind of scoring.
Despite a steady one under par front nine of 34, Golding’s incredible run came to an end as he took ten shots more than in his previous three rounds, with a double bogey six on the par four 17th hole eroding his advantage to just a single stroke, after Lane benefitted from the calmer conditions earlier on to fire a five under par 67.
“The course showed its teeth out there today,” said Golding, who finished on six under par 138. “I played well early on and if I had putted like I did yesterday I would maybe have been a couple under.
“I made a couple of mistakes on the back nine. I should have birdied the tenth, which felt like a dropped shot, then bogeyed the par three which was playing difficult.
“The last three holes were always going to be tough and 17 was a bad error from me. I was in the rough on the left and didn’t get the shoot I wanted from the fairway and then I three putted.
“I’ve dropped three shots on that hole in the last two days which was a bit of a killer blow. But the key was that I didn’t putt as well today.”
Golding finished runner up to Anders Forsbrand in last week’s SSE Scottish Senior Open following back-to-back weekend rounds of 64, but in he finds himself as the target this week, with compatriot Lane his nearest challenger.
The former Ryder Cup player started the day eight shots back but surged up the leaderboard with six birdies, dropping his only shot of the day on the 16th hole.
“I got a bit lucky on the seventh when I plugged it in the base of the trap from the tee then couldn’t get it out and then got it out and holed the next shot from 99 yards for a four to keep it going,” said Lane.
“Apart from that I played great because it was tough out there, especially the last few holes. On the 17th I took a three wood and three iron and it’s only 394 yards.
“All in all though it was a good day and I’m right back in it. I’m playing well.”
After opening with a birdie on the first to get within a shot of Golding, Mouland went on to sign for a 74 to remain two shots off the pace in tied third position with Peter Fowler, the 2011 Order of Merit winner, who carded a 69.
The big mover of the day was Sam Torrance, the 2002 Ryder Cup Captain, who holed a 12ft birdie putt on the last hole for a flawless six under par 66.
Torrance is in fifth position on three under par as he chases a first top ten finish of 2012, while another former Ryder Cup Captain, home favourite Ian Woosnam, is a shot further back in tied sixth place on two under par following a battling level par round of 72.
“I didn’t play that well and I was just trying to hang in there,” he said. “I played fantastic last week, but I’m swinging poorly this week.
“Level par was a pretty good score though today and you never know what happens. I got a little bit of luck to birdie the last so that could change things around a little bit.
“We’ve had some great support so far and hopefully the sun gets out tomorrow and I can do something for them.”