Former Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley carded a level par second round of 72 to move to within one shot of America’s Clark Dennis ahead of the final round of the Farmfoods European Senior Masters.
The Irishman, who masterminded Europe’s victory at Gleneagles in 2014, started the day four strokes behind Dennis, who leads the European Senior Tour Order of Merit, but held his nerve in testing conditions at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club.
Recovering from bogeys on the tenth and 18th holes, his first and ninth after starting his round on the back nine, McGinley took advantage of the par fives and birdied both the 12th and seventh holes.
“I’m very happy with that round, it was a tough day in tough conditions,” said McGinley. “The course was playable. The conditions were incredibly difficult but they did a good a job with the setup. It was tough, but fair. The greens were soft and that helps.
“Clark has played great the last six months and this is only my seventh event in my senior career. My finishing positions have been improving over the last three or four tournaments, but there are some really quality players up there.
“As well as Clark, there’s Peter Fowler and Phil Golding who have had a lot of success on this Tour. There are a lot of players out there who are capable of winning. I just have to go out there and have a good score tomorrow.”
The Dubliner, who famously holed the winning putt at The 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, just ten miles from Forest of Arden, hopes to write another chapter of his career in the Midlands.
“Birmingham has been good to me in the past,” he said. “I’m not sure you can ever replicate that moment, but we’ll see tomorrow. The competition is tough and players are full of confidence. If I’m going to win, I’m going to have to play really well.”
Dennis, who could win the Order of Merit and secure the John Jacobs Trophy this weekend, was pleased with his round as he battled wind and rain throughout the day.
“It was very difficult today, especially the front nine,” said Dennis. “It was difficult to judge distances; you’d feel as though you were hitting good shots but they would be longer or shorter than you thought.
“On the eighth hole, I hit five iron from 150 yards. That’s normally my eight iron distance; so that shows how tough it was.”
In third place on one under par are Fowler and Golding, and level par are Peter Baker, Gordon Brand Jnr and Stephen Dodd.