Three weeks after breaking an 18-year Aussie drought on the Champions Tour Rod Pampling is just one stroke off the lead heading into the final round of the Ascension Charity Classic in Missouri.
Pampling (66) and playing partner Ken Tanigawa (65) were a combined 11-under for their group to assume two of the top three spots on the leaderboard at Norwood Hills Country Club, Tanigawa and Doug Barron (68) leading at 8-under followed by Pampling, Alex Cejka (67) and Jim Furyk (68) at 7-under.
Playing in front of a raucous gallery that Pampling estimated was one of the five largest they have played in front of all season, the Boeing Classic champion fed off their energy and Tanigawa’s heroics to stake his own claim to the title.
“It’s great to have fans again back out there, just cheering and hooting and hollering and going on,” said Pampling.
“The crazy ones coming down the stretch there, but it’s good. It’s great to hear.
“(Ken) was making eagles from chip-ins, and I was making some birdies, so it was a lot of fun.
“It’s great to see someone else doing well and making putts. We have seen enough where no one makes putts but when you see someone doing it, it’s great.
“It gets you energised and it was nice to see some go in as well.”
Starting the day at 2-under after an opening round of 69, Pampling bolted out of the blocks with birdie at each of his first three holes.
He had to wait only until the fifth hole to pick up his fourth birdie of the day, a dropped shot at six countered by further birdies at eight and nine to make the turn in 5-under 31.
A run of six straight pars quietened the birdie barrage on the back nine, a bogey at the par-4 16th followed by a birdie from 18 feet at 17 rounding out his day’s work.
“I hit a few more fairways on the front nine, which is key,” the 51-year-old added.
“You have to hit fairways out here.
“It’s going to take a low one tomorrow. You’re going to have 4 or 5 (under) at least, I would think.”
John Senden (69) and Kiwi Steven Alker (68) are in a share of 22nd at 3-under par while Stephen Leaney (2-over), David McKenzie (4-over) and Robert Allenby (8-over) are well down the leaderboard.