Saturday, June 09, 2012


Andrew Oldcorn washed away the blues of a rain hit few days with a brilliant 69 to set up a potentially exciting climax to the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall.
The defending champion, who romped to a nine-stroke victory 12 months ago, is well-placed to retain his title having closed within two strokes of leader Mark James who carded a level par 72 to stay at five under for the £250,000 tournament.
Oldcorn is tied second alongside Sweden's Anders Forsbrand at three-under with Peter Fowler at two under. PGA pros Paul Wesselingh, Woodcote Park's Wraith Grant and Deeside's Peter Smith were among a group of players at one under.
But it was Oldcorn who impressed with some fine driving and a surer touch on the greens having swapped putters at the start of the rain-shortened event which has been reduced to 54-holes following Friday's abandoned play.
The 52-year-old, one of only six golfers to win both the PGA and PGA Seniors Championships, reaped the dividends of a new putter with birdies on 11, 15 and the difficult par four 18.
Another came on the third with just a solitary dropped shot on the last leaving Oldcorn to admit it was outstanding round.
"I think it was pretty exceptional, I hit it beautiful on the range this morning, I knew it was going to be a tough day for everybody but feel I have played really well and still feel I left one or two out there," he said.
"I took the decision to change my putter after the first round because I've been missing chance after chance in the last few weeks.
"I did hole one or two but still had 31 putts and was a bit disappointed to miss a six footer on the last but halfway round I said to my caddy, we'll play the fourth as a par four and the ninth as a par five so overall I played great and can't do any more than I did today."
Despite the sodden conditions the Scot had a spring in his step especially after birdieing the difficult 18th.
"That was awesome, that was the first bit of luck I've had in three weeks on the greens. I hit two great shots in a really heavy rain shower, I over hit the putt and it just bolted right in the middle and that was a real fillip and gave me a boost for the back nine.
"Tomorrow's another day, hopefully a drier day but conditions are going to be the same underfoot. If I play as well as I did today then I've got a chance."
Former Ryder Cup captain James, who became the first European to a US Senior Major championship when he won the Ford Senior Players Championship in 2004, had three birdies and three bogeys but was delighted with his effort in the conditions which keep him in pole position.
"It's so difficult, 72 is a good score, I don't think I can do much better," he said.
"It's so difficult hitting the ball off sodden fairways and putting on sodden greens so there is a lot of guess work, overall I've got to be fairly happy.
"The big problem is working out how the ball is going to come off the fairway, or what it is going to do on a long putt, you just can't judge it."
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