Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe share the halfway lead in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale, as Langer looks to make amends for his disappointment of 12 months ago.
The German led by one shot into the final round at Turnberry last year, but mistakes on the back nine contributed to a closing 75 and meant he had to settle for a share of sixth place behind winner Fred Couples.
The two-time Masters Champion, who has never finished outside the top 12 in the Championship, is determined to redress that missed opportunity, and he recovered well from a double bogey six on the sixth hole when he had a double hit on a greenside chip.
Having birdied the fifth hole prior to that unfortunate error, he picked up shots on the eighth, 13th, 15th and 17th holes to move to five under par 135 for the Championship, one stroke clear of South Africa David Frost.
“I played like the weather today, pretty good,” he said. “I just had one little blemish with a double bogey where I missed the green and double hit my chip shot. Otherwise it was a really good round. I hit a lot of good shots and putted much better today. So I’m very pleased with the position I'm in at the halfway point.”
Langer is the last European to win the Senior Open after claiming the tile at Carnoustie in 2010, and the popular 2004 Ryder Cup Captain was cheered on by large galleries at Royal Birkdale, with the crowd of 12,218 a record for the Championship surpassing the previous highest total of 10,150 on the final day at Royal Troon five years ago.
He was joined at the top of the leaderboard by American Wiebe who produced a stunning finish for a superb 65, the lowest round of the Championship so far.
Wiebe, who tied for sixth at Turnbery last year, picked up four shots in the last six holes playing in the fourth from last group of the day, sinking a 15ft birdie putt on the 18th.
“There's a long way to go, but I'm tickled to be where I am,” he said . “Last year I tied for sixth at Turnberry and I fell in love with the golf course. It was unbelievable. I had never played there, and I had never played here, and I have some same love affair going this week. It is just a real test of everything in your bag, including patience.”
South African David Frost, winner of last year’s MCB Tour Championship, signed for a second consecutive 68 and is one shot back on four under par.
Australian Peter Fowler, the 2011 European Senior Tour Order of Merit winner, is in a three-way tie for fourth on three under par following a 68, alongside Ireland’s Mark McNulty (67) and first round leader Gene Sauers of America (70).
Debutant Colin Montgomerie posted a one over par 71 to finish in a share of 23rd place on three over par, with 2014 US Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson one shot further back after finishing with back-to-back bogeys in his round of 71.