Torance shares Fancourt lead

Sam Torrance and Angel Franco finished Saturday with a share the lead at the Berenberg Bank Masters.

Scotland’s Sam Torrance and Paraguay’s Angel Franco battled their way through gusting winds and a cantankerous Links layout to claim a share of the lead going into at the European Senior Tour’s Berenberg Bank Masters at The Links at Fancourt on Saturday.

Torrance overcame a lost ball and conditions which he described as being as tough as a Senior British Open to post a one-under-par 72 for a total of two under, while Franco birdied the last, also for a 72 and a share of the lead.

They are two strokes clear of their nearest challenger in England’s Roger Chapman, who despite his 72 described this as “the hardest round I’ve played for a very long time”.

Torrance agreed. “It was very tough, but I love conditions like this,” said the former Ryder Cup captain, who started well and was two under through the first five holes. Then came three bogeys in five holes, including a lost ball on the par-four 10th, before birdies at 14 and 16 took him to the top of the leaderboard.

“Apart from those bogeys, the round was exemplary. This is a very tough golf course, but I’m in great shape for the final round,” said the winner of the 2009 Order of Merit.

Behind the leaders, Chapman described the wind and challenging greens of The Links as “like going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. You feel absolutely shattered afterwards. I can’t remember playing a tougher round of golf. I would’ve taken 72 at the start of the day.”

The Englishman, who has been in good form with finishes of tied ninth, fourth and tied 11th in his last three tournaments, has also benefitted from spending a month in South Africa practising before this tournament.

“I had air miles and we had some friends down here. So my wife and I thought we’d have three weeks holiday and I could also practice, which is more than I can do in England at the moment with the weather there. I played Royal Cape, Erinvale and Steenberg. It was great fun.”

First round leader Boonchu Ruangkit was a victim of the difficult conditions. He followed his opening 69 with a second round 78 – including five bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies – for a total of one over par.

Bertus Smit is the leading South African on two over par. But Steve van Vuuren, only two strokes off the first round lead, dropped into a share of 28th place with a round of 84.

Ian Woosnam signed for a 78 to finish the day on six over par, while multiple Major champion Gary Player posted an 85 for a total of 16 over par.