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Miguel Angel Jiménez holds four shot lead going into last day of the Senior Open

Miguel Angel Jiménez fell just short of equalling the course record at Carnoustie after missing s six-foot birdie putt at the 18th during the third round of the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex.

But the Spaniard holds a four shot lead going into the last day at Carnoustie on Sunday.

The 52-year-old plotted a serene path around one of the world’s most challenging links courses, signing for a bogey-free 65 to ignite his quest for the major championship which eluded him on the regular tour but is now within his grasp as a senior.

Jiménez shot his best-of-the-week score for an 11 under par total of 205. With Joe Durant dropping a shot at the last, the popular player's cushion grew to four strokes over three Americans in Durant, Tom Byrum and Wes Short Jnr and the leading British contender, Paul Broadhurst.

Ryder Cup player Broadhurst, making his debut in the Senior Open, followed a majestic back nine of 30 in the second round by carding a four under par 68 in the third for a 54-hole total of 209. He now goes head-to-head with Jiménez in the final group.

Jiménez conceded that winning a first Major would represent a huge achievement in a career which only truly went stratospheric after he turned 40 in 2004. He said: “It would mean a lot. If I win – in Scotland, the Home of Golf – it would be amazing. Tomorrow we will see.”

The only player to reach ‘double digits’ during the week, Jiménez made the game look simple, as only he can. Almost every shot arrowed in on its target with unerring accuracy and the round was summed up by the final two holes of Carnoustie’s famously tough finish.

Jiménez sent a four iron soaring onto the 17th green for a birdie - his seventh of a wonderfully composed round – and struck an imperious five iron to six feet at the last. The putt stayed above ground, but failed to dampen the spirits of the Spanish conquistador.

“It was a very nice day on the golf course,” agreed Jiménez. “I played very solid from tee to green. Everything was working perfectly today. I played the last two holes beautifully so I am happy with my day and the score, despite not making the last putt for a 64.”

Miguel Angel Jiménez
Miguel Angel Jiménez

Despite his relaxed demeanour on the golf course, Jiménez admitted that he will experience nerves when he heads out for what he hopes will be a triumphant march up the 18th hole to become the 30th Senior Open Champion.

“Of course I care,” he said. “I love what I do, and what I’ve done for the past 28 years. I want to do well, to be as relaxed as possible and do my best.”

Broadhurst, who won in Scotland on his senior debut in the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open last August, is hoping that history repeats itself on his first appearance in the Senior Open. He said: “Carnoustie is one of my favourite links courses, where I had my best Open finish in 2007. I will try to finish it off tomorrow.”

The Englishman took 12th place at The Open that year and loves the challenge it brings. With five birdies and only one bogey, Broadhurst produced a high class up-and-down for a par on the last to get into the clubhouse just four behind Jiménez.

He commented: “You don’t want to finish with a bogey so it’s nice to have dinner on a high rather than a low. I made a very nice eight-footer for par.”

Broadhurst knows that the only person ahead of him in the field is a worthy favourite going into what promises to be a gripping final day at Carnoustie. He added: “Miguel’s going to be the man to beat, without a doubt. I was hitting some good shots in the group ahead of him, and every time I turned around he had just hit it inside me!”

It appeared that Jiménez would take a three shot lead into the last day, but Durant bogeyed the final hole to complete a disappointing day.

“I played horrible today, I really did,” he claimed. “My iron play was terrible. Now we’re going to have to make something happen tomorrow, because Miguel is a front runner and knows how to win golf tournaments.”

Bernhard Langer, the last person to win at Carnoustie in the 2010 Senior Open, threatened to get closer to the lead but was undone by a pair of bogeys at the 16th and 18th to finish on three under par and a long way behind the pace-setting Jiménez

The Spaniard is noted for his unconventional approach to life and had no doubt how he would prepare for one of the biggest days of his golfing career.

“I’m going to do exactly the same things I’ve done in previous nights – go for dinner with friends, have a nice bottle of Rioja, a fat cigar and a nice malt whisky.”