Saturday, September 13, 2014




America’s Tim Thelen defied a serious back problem to card an eight under par 64 and claim a three-shot lead going into Sunday's final round of the Senior Open de Portugal at Vidago Palace in the north of the country.
The former US PGA Club Professional champion almost pulled out after his back went into spasm on the second hole, but went on to card nine birdies to reach twelve under par and go into the final round with a comfortable lead over Carl Mason, Des Smyth and Greg Turner.

Overnight leader Chris Williams slipped back to fifth place after dropping three shots on the par four 16th on his way to carding a one over par 73 - while Miguel Angel Martin posted a six under par 66 to join Simon P. Brown, Gary Rusnak, Jerry Smith and Steen Tinning one shot further back on 138.

Thelen arrived in Portugal having finished inside the top three in his last two starts, but the opportunity of continuing that run looked to be in danger for the American, after he aggravated an existing back injury while playing out of a bunker on the par five second hole.

“I thought I was done on the second,” Thelen admitted. “It went into spasm after the bunker shot and I seriously considered calling it a day. In the end I decided to see how bad it got and it turned out to be a good decision because I scored very well after that.”

Thelen’s birdie barrage started on the fourth, before he gained further shots on the sixth and eighth holes. Four more birdies arrived on the tenth, 11th, 13th and 15th, before the three-time European Senior Tour winner produced his shot of the day at the 16th, where he hit a six iron to an inch, before two-putting for another birdie on the 17th hole.

“It was a good day’s work but I’m exhausted now and very uncomfortable. I need to see the physio and see if she can do anything to sort me out.”

Turner carded an excellent 67 to move up from ninth place into a share of second and give himself a great chance of claiming his first title European Senior Tour title, on just his third start.
The New Zealander got his round off to a fine start thanks to birdies on the second, fourth and sixth holes. He dropped a shot when he failed to get up-and-down from just off the tenth green, before carding four birdies and a bogey over his closing seven holes to join Smyth and Mason on nine under par 135.

“It was a strange sort of round,” Turner said. “I hit a couple of loose shots over the first couple of holes and never really felt comfortable after that. I have putted well over the last two days. I haven’t holes a lot of long ones but haven’t missed much from medium range and that’s what you have to do to make your score."

Smyth would have started the final round alone in second place, but for missing a 2ft par putt on his final hole of the day.

“It leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth,” he said after posting a four under par 68. “I played some terrific golf and holed a lot of good putts but that miss on the last is what I’m going to remember when I’m thinking about the round this evening. I mishit it and it dived straight left on me. It never had a chance of going in.”

Mason meanwhile, added a 69 to his opening 66 and still has an excellent opportunity to add to his record haul of 25 European Senior Tour victories.

The Englishman played the first 11 holes of his round in level par before battling back with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 17th.

“It was tricky out there today,” Mason said. “The wind was stronger than yesterday and there are a lot of holes out there where you have to be very careful. I don’t think I played quite as well as yesterday but I’m still in contention and that’s all that matters at this stage in the tournament.”

One player who no longer has a chance to win this year’s Senior Open de Portugal is former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam.

 He played twelve holes of his second round in one under par, but then had to pull out one hole later suffering from a back problem.   

Andrew Oldcorn (pictured by Cal Carson Golf Agency) carded a superb six under par 66 to storm up the leaderboard and finish the day in joint 11th position on 139 - seven behind leader Thelen
The Scot started the day ten shots off the pace after an opening round 73, but carded five birdies over his opening seven holes and another on the par five 17th to finish the round on five under par 139.

“I can’t believe how well I played today,” he said. “When I got here at the start of the week I felt lousy. I think I had some sort of man flu. I had no energy at all on Thursday and Friday but I’m feeling a bit better today.

“I played terrible yesterday so last night I decided I’d go out today and just free-wheel it and see what happened. I played awesome for the first seven holes but then missed three or four chances coming home when I could have shot a really low number.

“66 was by far the most I could have shot today.”

 Par 144 (2x72)
132 Tim  Thelen (USA) 68 64]
135 Carl Mason (England) 66 69, Des Smyth (Ireland) 67 68, Greg Turner (NZ) 68 67
136 Chris Williams 63 73

139 Andrew Oldcorn 73 66 (T11)
141 Bill Longmuir 71 70 (T20)
142 Stephen McAllister 74 68 (T22)
149 David James 75 74 (T55)
162 Brian Marchbank 81 81 (70th)





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