There was plenty of jockeying for position on Saturday during the second round of the Nova Employment Australian PGA Seniors Championship.
The day ended with Peter Lonard and Jason Norris tied at the top on 8-under in front of a well-credentialed and congested leaderboard.
Starting the day looking to reel in overnight leader Martin Doyle, the chasing pack got some early help from the Victorian when he made double bogey at the 11th having started on the 10th.
Lonard was one of the first to make a move with birdie at the par-3 second, while Jason Norris and Tim Elliot were feeding off some positive energy two groups ahead.
Elliot made back-to-back birdies to start his day before Norris joined in at the third and was quickly the man to watch on course when he rolled in a hat-trick of birdies starting at the fifth to make the turn in 4-under 32.
It was around the turn where Elliot momentarily fell back with four bogeys. However the PGA Legends Tour fixture did bounce back with his own hat-trick of birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to finish on 5-under and three shots off the lead alongside Anthony Summers.
Norris’ finish was a little more subdued, with two back nine birdies leading to a bogey-free 64, his birdie at the last showcasing the advantage of the younger set on the over-50s circuit with his driver at the short par-4 reaching pin high and a subsequent routine up-and-down.
“It started off well, was playing well on the front nine then the breeze got up and hit a few bad shots but got away with it,” Norris said.
“Especially here because it’s all kikuyu, they’ve had a bit of rain, I think it’s a big advantage, you’ve still got to play well,” he added of his length off the tee.
Meanwhile Lonard was playing the steady golf he knows is key to success at Richmond Golf Club after twice finishing runner-up here, his first bogey of the week coming at the 12th. The dropped shot was offset by two birdies over the closing holes for a second straight 66.
“Pretty happy with the day, I hit a couple of shonky shots and got away with one, but not so much the other,” Lonard said.
“I suppose I would give it a, played okay and got away with it and shot a score and hopefully tomorrow I’ll hit them a little straighter and a little closer to the hole and make a few putts.”
Despite adding two more bogeys to his early double, Doyle was fighting hard in the heat, which topped out at 36°.
Feeling the nerves in his third PGA Legends Tour event and making a return to competitive golf after 12 years away, he signed for a 1-under 69 to sit at 7-under and one back of Norris and Lonard.
“I’ve had nothing to eat today, because I couldn’t keep anything down,” he said of the nerves.
“It’s seems really stupid when you’re 50 that you get nervous, but when you haven’t done this sort of thing for a long long time, you sort of wonder whether you can still do it. That’s why it was pleasing to finish it off today and shoot under par.”
A further shot back are two of the pre-tournament favourites in Stephen Allan, who shot a second round 69, and John Senden, who provided the highlight of the day.
Playing over the trees from the right side of the 18th fairway as Lonard and a crowd watched on, the Queenslander’s wedge went beyond the pin before spinning back into the cup for an eagle two and a 4-under 66.
The hole-out perhaps a sign of things to come on Saturday when another player will add their name to the trophy that includes iconic names like Lee Trevino, Billy Dunk and Peter Senior, with past champions Peter Fowler and Andre Stolz not out of the equation on Sunday on 4-under.
Catch the action of the final round on Sunday, broadcast live, on Foxtel (Channel 503) and Kayo Sports.
Round 4: Sunday, 11am-2pm AEDT
2022: Richard Green
2021: Guy Wall
2020: Andre Stolz
2019: Peter Senior