American Brady Exber claimed a one shot lead over England’s Tony McLure on a day when par proved to be an unattainable target in the Seniors Amateur Championship at a bright but breezy Ganton.
Exber followed his 72 with a 74 for four over par 146 while first round leader McLure shot a 77. Stephen East, from Morrtown in Leeds, and American John McClure were tied for third on 149.
Exber, who was joint leader after the first round but then missed the cut at Royal Aberdeen last year, had a round of contrasts. He was two under going out but five over coming home.
“I was very happy and played really well on the front nine,” he said. “But it was a real Jekyll and Hyde round. I had a bad chip at the tenth and that seemed to knock me out of my rhythm.”
The tenth was the first of three bogeys in a row and he shed more shots at the 15th and 16th. The birdies were more welcome – from two feet at the seventh and he was on in two at the par five ninth.
Joint sixth in 2011 and fifth the following year, the man from Las Vegas is now hoping he hits the jackpot in the final round.
It was McLure’s outward half that proved costly. “I hit three bunkers in the front nine and lost a ball at the eighth,” he ruefully recounted. “I hit a wayward tee shot and ended up in the jungle with the rabbits.”
It all added up to 41 on his card at the turn. But he did have a couple of highlights – a birdie at the third where he hit a wedge approach to three feet – and another at the 14th where he holed a testing 15-foot putt.
East could be a real danger man. He has enjoyed a great start to his over-55 career with a win in the Spanish Seniors Amateur Championship at La Manga at the start of the year and then a victory in the English Senior Men’s Championship at Matfen Hall in June.
The 55-year-old made his move with a fine 74 that included a two at the short tenth and the Yorkshireman goes into the final round hoping to make it a home county victory.
McClure, from Los Angeles, has just turned 55 and is competing for the first time as a Senior. He had three birdies but also had two bogeys, double-bogeyed the 12th and three-putted the 18th for a 73, the joint best score of the day.
“I played in a lot of Amateur Championships in the 1990s but never did very well and so I always wanted to come back,” he said. “I found the courses tough and the weather didn’t suit me. But this is a really great course and I really enjoyed it.”
John Fraser also shot 73 and it and it lifted him into fifth place on 150. A member at the Royal Burgess Club in Edinburgh, the Scot is a former top class shinty player and his card included three birdies. They came at the par four sixth and the two long holes, the ninth and the 13th.
Paul Plant (Dyke), joint second overnight after an opening 71, slipped back with an 82 but still safely made the cut that fell on 18 over par.
American George Zahringer, the defending champion, had been caught up in the first round storm delay and he completed his first round 78 in the morning and then went out and added a 75 for 11 over par 153.
Inside the top 15, he is still not completely out of the hunt but he reckons he will need sub-70 to have any chance of retaining the title.
Chip Lutz, another American and the champion in 2011 and 2012, shot 78 in the second round and posted a total of 13 over par 155.
With rain and the possibility of thunder forecast for the final day, the start has been moved forward to 7:00 am with the players setting out in two balls. It is hoped to finish play at approximately 3.30pm.