James Kingston took one step towards his first European Senior Tour title after he fired a six under par second round of 66 at the inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq.
The South African, who is now in his second year on the over-50s circuit, carded seven birdies, including four in succession on the front nine, during the round of the day to move one shot clear of compatriot Chris Williams and England’s Gary Marks.
Going in search of a maiden Senior Tour title, the two-time European Tour winner is taking nothing for granted ahead of the final day.
“I’d like to get the first one under my belt, but you don’t just pitch up at a golf course and win,” said the 51 year old. “You have to put the numbers on the scoreboard. There is a lot of golf to play before you can walk away with a trophy.
“I’m delighted, especially after coming here not knowing what to expect on this course. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure how I was playing, but ten under par is great.
“The first nine really made a difference. Yesterday there was too much wind during my round, and we got away with it this morning.”
Kingston had the opportunity to play three European Tour events in South Africa at the start of 2017, and believes the practise has helped.
“The weather back home is kinder than most parts of Europe,” he said. “And having the opportunity to compete against the youngsters helps. I may have come here a little more ready than most, but these guys are seasoned professionals.
“Most of them pitched up three or four days early and they got to hit a few balls and get rid of the cobwebs.”
Marks, who secured his maiden Senior Tour title last season at the Willow Senior Golf Classic, said that he has so far exceeded expectations in his first outing of the season.
The Englishman opened his round with three birdies, adding another before a double bogey on the seventh. But the 53 year old went on to make three more gains to sign for a round of 68 and reach nine under par overall.
“It was a great start, you can’t plan things like that, but you have to keep it going and not defend or get complacent,” he said.
“I was in a bit of trouble in the middle of the round, but a couple of decent putts went in and I finished steadily after regrouping.”
With golfers playing each hole on the course twice, Marks admitted it was tough returning to the seventh for the second time.
“There’s some scar tissue there the next time you are on that tee,” he said. “There’s that memory and you have to deal with it a couple of hours later. That’s part of the game though. If you can’t deal with scary golf shots, you shouldn’t be a pro.”
Tied for fourth place are 2016 Rookie of the Year Magnus P Atlevi, 2016 John Jacobs Trophy winner Paul Broadhurst, two-time Senior Major Champion Roger Chapman, and two-time Senior Tour winner Steen Tinning on seven under par.
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