Birthday boy McGovern lurking in Dutch Masters
 Carl Mason of England in action during the second round of the Dutch Senior Masters played at The Dutch on October 7, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

Carl Mason of England in action during the second round of the Dutch Senior Masters played at The Dutch on October 7, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

Brendan McGovern celebrated his 52nd birthday by moving to within three shots of Carl Mason as he bids to bag his maiden European Senior Tour title in the Dutch Masters.

The Headfort professional, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, won the European Senior Tour Q-School to regain his playing credentials having finished 29th in the Order of Merit in his rookie season.

He’s 17th so far this season having notched three top-10 finishes, including a share of second in last month’s Travis Perkins Masters last month, from his 11 starts so far.

And he now has a chance to go one better after a second round 71 at The Dutch left him tied for third on one-over-par 143.

Record European Senior Tour winner Mason will take a one-stroke lead into the final round as he bids for a record-breaking 26th victory.

The 64-year-old carded his second consecutive round of 70 at The Dutch, one under par, for a two-under-par total, one stroke ahead of American Clark Dennis who will go in search of his second victory of the season.

Similarly to the first round, the 54-man field had to contend with strong winds and rain at The Dutch, a European Tour Destination and host of the KLM Open. Mason and Dennis were the only two players to finish their second rounds under par.

Mason, who won his first title on the over-50s circuit in 2003, broke former Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton’s record of 23 victories six years ago when he won the Open de España Senior. His 25th victory came later in 2011 at the Benahavis Senior Masters.

“I’m delighted with that,” said Mason. “I kept swinging at it and it kept going straight, a few putts went in and it was as enjoyable as it could be given the circumstances. It’s playing so difficult out there, it’s very tricky.

“I’ve had some really good rounds then some bad rounds. I want to put it down to age, but maybe it’s just me. When you get older it’s not as easy.

“Me and Des Smyth have always said we have wanted to get a win in our 60s and that would be wonderful. I appreciate how good these guys are now, so I’ll go out there and try my best.”

 Clark Dennis of the United States in action during the second round of the Dutch Senior Masters played at The Dutch on October 7, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

Clark Dennis of the United States in action during the second round of the Dutch Senior Masters played at The Dutch on October 7, 2017 in Spijk, Netherlands.  (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

Dennis, the 18-hole leader, carded a second round of 72, one over par, for a one-under-par total after two rounds.

“The weather turned on the back nine, and I played the 11th and 12th in horrific conditions – turning those par four holes into par fives,” said Dennis. “It was so difficult towards the end. It was a war out there today; it was brutal.

“There was a period during the round when it was almost impossible, and I just happened to be on the two hardest holes. I am pleased though, one under is a great score in these conditions.”

Stephen Dodd, Paul Eales and McGovern share third place on one over par, and Andrew Oldcorn occupies sixth place a shot further back.

Paul McGinley is tied for 15th on six-over 148 after a 76 with Smyth (80) tied 37th on 155, Philip Walton (77) tied 48th on 155 and Denis O’Sullivan (81) 51st on 162.

Scores after round two:

140 C Mason (Eng) 70 70, 

141 C Dennis (USA) 69 72, 

143 P Eales (Eng) 73 70, Brendan McGovern (Irl) 72 71, S Dodd (Wal) 70 73, 

144 A Oldcorn (Sco) 73 71, 

145 P Wesselingh (Eng) 73 72, P Wilson (Eng) 72 73, G Wolstenholme (Eng) 72 73, 

146 B Lane (Eng) 74 72, 

147 P Golding (Eng) 72 75, M Atlevi (Swe) 75 72, P Linhart (Esp) 75 72, M Davis (Eng) 72 75, 

148 M Mackenzie (Eng) 74 74, Paul McGinley (Irl) 72 76, A Bossert (Sui) 70 78, 

149 J Carriles (Esp) 74 75, G Orr (Sco) 72 77, C Suneson (Esp) 72 77, J Sandelin (Swe) 72 77, 

150 A Sherborne (Eng) 73 77, A Franco (Par) 72 78, 

151 B Conser (USA) 72 79, S Tinning (Den) 75 76, M Harwood (Aus) 72 79, S Luna (Esp) 76 75, C Monasterio (Arg) 72 79, 

152 J Kingston (RSA) 75 77, P O'Malley (Aus) 71 81, K Tarling (Can) 76 76, 

153 G Marks (Eng) 78 75, 

154 M Mouland (Wal) 76 78, S Brown (Eng) 76 78, C Rocca (Ita) 77 77, R Drummond (Sco) 74 80, 

155 Des Smyth (Irl) 75 80, C Williams (RSA) 75 80, T Giles (Eng) 79 76, G Rusnak (USA) 77 78, 

156 J Sallat (Fra) 85 71, T Thelen (USA) 76 80, G Brand Jnr (Sco) 77 79, 

157 M Farry (Fra) 76 81, N Job (Eng) 77 80, P Mitchell (Eng) 77 80, 

158 G Brand (Eng) 73 85, 

159 Philip Walton (Irl) 82 77, 

160 A Saddington (Sco) 78 82, 

161 S Richardson (Eng) 77 84, 

162 Denis O'Sullivan (Irl) 81 81

165 G Emerson (Eng) 87 78, J Quiros (Esp) 87 78, 

172 R Scheffer (Ned) 87 85.