A three-under 68 has Rod Pampling firmly in the mix midway through the Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbour.
The Australian shot one of the lower rounds of the day to work his way to a five-under 137 total, to be three off the pace set by Scott McCarron (66) and Stephen Ames (66) on Friday.
Pampling is tied seventh alongside four-time major winner Ernie Els (70) and defending champion Alex Cejka (69).
The 52-year-old from Redcliffe, Queensland, birdied the first and third to go with the 12th and 15th. His lone bogey came on the par-four seventh.
They are one behind 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir (71), two-time major winner Bernhard Langer (68), Brian Gay (68) and joint overnight NZ leader Steven Alker (72).
McCarron found a way to make eight birdies, counteracting three bogeys on a rainy, windy day at Harbour Shores Resort.
“Weather, we teed off, and it was not too bad, 60 (degrees), and then we got to the third hole and I think it dropped 10 or 15 degrees,” McCarron said. “It was crazy.”
The American bogeyed the par-4 third hole after opening with two birdies, and made two more bogeys at Nos. 6 and 7.
But he got his round going with four straight birdies at Nos. 11-14. McCarron, playing on a surgically reconstructed left ankle, birdied four of the course’s five par 3s.
“The surgery in August, no weight-bearing for about seven weeks, couldn’t walk at all, then started learning how to walk again, then learning how to play again in December,” McCarron said.
“But I need to come out and play. I need to come out and walk. That’s the only way it’s going to get stronger, if I keep testing it.”
Ames recovered from a double bogey at the fourth hole by making six birdies over his last 11 holes. He credited his improved putting.
“I’ve had opportunities but I couldn’t make the putts to close things out,” Ames said. “I’ve been working a little bit on that, mentally more than the stroke itself.
“Those things I’ve put in place this week that I’ve been working on, and it’s coming out, which is nice. It’s freed me up quite a bit.”
Australia’s Peter Fowler (70-72) and Mark Hensby (67-75) are tied 38th, eight shots behind the lead.
David McKenzie (71-74) and Stephen Leaney (70-75) made the three-over cut on the line, with Stuart Appleby (73-73), Richard Green (72-74) and John Senden (70-76) just missing.