Victorious 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.”
In the Alliance team competition Michael Doyle and Ronan Rafferty took the spoils with a score of -13 under. McGinley and his playing partner Tyrone Hanlon narrowly missed out in second place two shots behind. In third place finishing on the same score as McGinley and Hanlon were tournament leader Dennis and playing partner Ricky Sturrock who dropped to third on countback.