By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Rockliffe Hall
For the second week running, Senior Tour rookie Cesar Monasterio leads heading into the final round after a course record-equalling nine under par 63 fired the Argentinian top at the English Senior Open.
Seven days ago, Monasterio held a three-shot lead after 36 holes at the SSE Scottish Senior Open before he eventually finished in a tie for second behind England’s Mark Davis, and the 50 year old will once again take a dominant advantage into Sunday following a virtually flawless display on Moving Day at Rockliffe Hall in County Durham.
At 12 under par, the Tucuman native, this week playing just his fifth event in the Senior ranks, is three clear of Scotland’s Ross Drummond (65) and a further two shots ahead of England’s Barry Lane (66).
Welshman Ian Woosnam, meanwhile, shot 64 on Saturday to lie tied fourth alongside overnight leader Jamie Spence (71) and Spaniard Jose Manuel Carriles (68).
On a day peppered with patches of rain and late summer sun in the North East of England, Monasterio got off to a hot start, carding six birdies in a front-nine 31 with his only blip of the day coming in the form of a bogey at the par four eighth.
Further gains followed at the 12th and 16th – meaning the big-hitting Monasterio birdied all four of Rockliffe Hall’s par fives on Saturday – before a snaking 20-foot putt birdie putt at the 17th preceded a tenth and final birdie of the day at the par four last.
“I changed my irons to a heavier shaft and they made me deadly, especially from 100 yards!” said Monasterio, who equals the score set by defending champion Steen Tinning in 2013.
“That gave me a lot more control but also my putting was very good and I holed quite a few good ones. The best was probably the 17th which was very slopey and from around 20ft.
“I was also very close to eagling the 16th so it could have been even better!”
Last Sunday, Monasterio struggled to a closing 79 in blustery conditions at Fairmont St Andrews and had to make do with a runners-up spot behind fellow-rookie Davis, but hopes that experience, and the influence of local caddie Gary Spalding, could prove influential.
“It was a great to have a caddie like Gary on my bag, he is a three handicapper and he can play for me tomorrow! He was very good – perfect!” continued Monasterio, who won his only European Tour title at the 2006 St Omer Open.
“I am going to have to concentrate on Sunday and try to play exactly the same as I have today. I am feeling good. I played really well. Hopefully it continues.”
Drummond, meanwhile, found six birdies and an eagle at the par five fourth en route to his 66 and, after five finishes as runner-up on the Senior Tour, will retain hopes of snatching a first title of his own.
“I had my eye in today, definitely,” said Drummond, who has a further 33 top ten finishes in seven season on the Senior Tour. “I played solid, nicely all day and managed to get a bit hot on the final stretch.
“I’ve struggled with a back injury recently and I could still feel that so hopefully it holds up and I can go out and enjoy tomorrow.”