Miguel Angel Jiménez has another chance to break Des Smyth’s record and become the European Tour’s oldest winner after a faultless, four under 68 left him just three shots behind Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger in the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.
Smyth was 48 and 34 days when he captured the Madeira Island Open in 2001. But the charismatic man from Malaga will be 48 years, three months and 25 days on Sunday and he joked that the leaders are already aware that he is ready to pounce for his 19th European Tour win.
“There are 36 holes more to go and I feel good and they don’t because they feel my breathe on their neck,” quipped Jiménez, who is tied for fourth on four under par.
“I’m feeling very good on the golf course,” added the Spaniard, who was runner up to Lee Westwood last year. “The only thing I need to improve is my sand wedge and my lob‑wedge, I didn’t put them close enough.
“But the rest of the game is pretty good. I had nice shots from the tee, nice shots to the greens. And my putting is decent, too. That’s everything you need.”
Whether or not Jiménez has the stamina to keep going is another question but like his rival for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy, Paul McGinley, he will be keen to prove their is life in the old dog yet.
The Dubliner shot a fine 71 in windy conditions on Thursday but had to settle for a one over 73 in the second round that saw him slip from seventh to tied 29th with Shane Lowry (70) and Damien McGrane (71) on even par.
“Always good to make the cut when you feel like your playing poorly,” Lowry informed his 16,900 plus Twitter followers. “Think I’ve found something on the range to take to the weekend.
Gareth Maybin had 34 putts and only made the cut on the four over par limit as he finished with a bogey for a 76.
But there was no reprieve for recently-married Open champion Darren Clarke, who missed the cut by one as he followed his opening 77 with a 72.
It was Clarke’s eighth missed cut since his major breakthrough at Royal St George’s last July and his best finish in a full field event since then is 35th in the Omega European Masters last September.
At the business end of the leaderboard, 26-year old Wiesberger took full advantage of the benign morning conditions at Blackstone Golf Club, near Seoul, as he posted seven birdies in an immaculate 65 to lead by a shot on seven under from 2010 Ballantine’s Championship winner Marcus Fraser (67).
Sweden’s Oscar Floren finished with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes before an eagle on the last for a 67 to sit a further shot back with Jiménez tied for fourth with Anthony Wall (67) and Felipe Aguilar of Chile (69).
Ryder Cup pair Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are also well positioned to make a move over the weekend after rounds of 72 and 67. They are both two under par for the championship, but Wiesberger is the man to catch after masterful second round performance.
“I was happy with my round yesterday, and today I really got to the stage where it kind of worked,” Wiesberger said. “A couple of long putts dropped, and the chip‑in on the last was nice, as well, to finish the round off. Today couldn’t really do anything wrong really. It felt like everything was going in the right direction.”
English pair Casey and Poulter are also in contention, five shots off the pace, following rounds of 72 and 67 respectively, but first round leader Victor Dubuisson slipped back to one under par with a 75.
Australian Adam Scott, the World Number 12, also endured a frustrating day, carding five bogeys in a round of 76 to lie ten shots off the pace in a share of 57th position.
Scott claimed his only birdie of the day on the final hole and he will be hoping to produce a similar surging performance as Englishman Lee Westwood 12 months ago, who made the weekend on the cut-line before going on to win the title.
The Korean challenge is led by Ji-ho Jung, who carded a 71 for a share of seventh place on three under par, while World Number 32 Bae Sang-moon fired a 68 to move to one under par and inside the top 20.