In-form Andrew Oldcorn will take a commanding four stroke lead into the final day of the French Riviera Masters after a dramatic conclusion to the second round at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort.
The Scot fired a four under par 68 – his seventh consecutive under par round on the European Senior Tour – to move to nine under par 135 after late mistakes by Luis Carbonetti and Philip Golding dented their title hopes.
Argentine Carbonetti had shared the overnight lead with Oldcorn, and the pair spent most of the day on equal terms, but a double bogey five on the 16th hole, followed by back-to-back bogeys on the 17th and 18th, meant Carbonetti signed for a 73 to slip five shots off the pace.
Golding was also in touch with Oldcorn until he lost his ball off the tee on the last hole and racked up a costly double bogey six to finish, as the Englishman posted a level par 72 to also end up on four over par.
Meanwhile, Oldcorn ironed out the self-confessed mental errors he made on his front nine, when he mixed bogeys on the fourth and seventh holes with birdies on the second and sixth, as he came back in 32 shots.
Oldcorn, who has finished in the top ten in each of his last three Senior Tour events, birdied the 11th, 12th, 14th and 17th holes in a flawless back nine, to open up a comfortable cushion at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was a funny day because I didn’t strike the ball as well as yesterday, and I definitely didn’t putt as well – certainly the front nine,” he said. “But I just stuck at it. I knew I was still swinging pretty good and that opportunities would come on the back nine. I wasn’t always in control, but I came good on the back nine.”
Australian Peter Fowler (71) and South Africa Chris Williams (69) are Oldcorn’s nearest rivals on five under par, but even Oldcorn admitted he was surprised by the margin of his lead following a tight battle with Carbonetti for 15 holes.
“There was a massive swing on the 15th when Luis had a six foot putt for birdie to go to nine under, and he missed and then he hit it into the hazard on the next and bogeyed the last two holes,” said Oldcorn.
“So there was a massive swing for me against him. Luis had dragged me along before that because he played really well. I was trying to stick with him and jockey for position. So to come out with a four stroke lead is great. It would have been inconceivable standing on the 16th tee, but that is golf.
“That can happen on this course and I’m taking nothing for granted tomorrow. I like where I am and I know what I have to do. I have to do a few things better than I did today, certainly putt better, and hopefully I will be alright.”
Williams also enjoyed a fine back nine, with an eagle on the par five 14th hole and birdie to finish, as he chases his first top five finish of the season. It was more a steady ride for Fowler, who closed with six straight pars, as a one under par front nine was followed by a birdie on 11 and a bogey on 12 in his round of 71.
Carbonetti and Golding share fourth place with Paraguay’s Angel Franco (70) and Englishman Paul Wesselingh, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, who carded a 68.