Gary Orr closing in on first Senior success

Gary Orr reacts as he sinks a birdie putt at the 18th hole on day two of the Scottish Senior Open at Craigielaw. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Gary Orr reacts as he sinks a birdie putt at the 18th hole on day two of the Scottish Senior Open at Craigielaw. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
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It’s been a while. Eighteen years, in fact. But a return to winning ways could be on the cards for Gary Orr. The 51-year-old Helensburgh man is three shots clear of the field heading into the final round of the Scottish Seniors Open at Craigielaw.

“Thirteen shots would be better,” quipped Orr, a two-time winner on the European Tour, after making six birdies in carding a bogey-free 65 to sit on nine-under after two circuits at the East Lothian venue. “But I’m really pleased to be in this position.”

Both Orr’s victories on the main circuit came in 2000, finishing a shot ahead of Welshman Philip Price to land the Portuguese Open at Penina before holding off his compatriot, Colin Montgomerie, to land the British Masters at Woburn. “I was definitely leading when I won the British Masters while I might have been tied for the lead in Portugal,” he recalled.

The Surrey-based Scot, pictured, was tied for top spot heading into the final round of the recent Willow Senior Classic at Hanbury Manor before finishing joint-second behind Australian Peter Fowler. He’s recorded four top-tens in nine events this season. This is his best chance yet to record his maiden win on the over-50s circuit.

If he can pull it off, he’d be the first Scot to claim this title since Sam Torrance achieved the feat at Dalmahoy in 2006. Just two other Scots, David Huish and Bill Longmuir in 1998 and 2004 respectively, have landed the prize. “I’ve been playing solidly the last few weeks and it’s just been a continuation of that here, really,” said Orr. “I want to be nervous tomorrow. I don’t want to wake up feeling flat. You want to feel the nerves a bit as that gets you focused. You want to feel a bit edge to it, but I’m looking forward to that.”

As the overnight leader, Welshman Stephen Dodd, had to settle for a level-par 71, Orr surged ahead with a polished performance in easier conditions than Friday’s wind and rain. “I was a wee bit scrappy in parts but kept it going with a couple of good up and downs,” he said. “At the sixth, for example, I missed it left and was dead, really, but managed to play a really good shot. It was the same at the 17th where I tried to force a 7-iron and pushed it a bit. Those kind of things keep your momentum going. They are maybe more important than birdies as it keeps you going forward all the time.”

Englishman David Shacklady, winner of last month’s Russian Open, is Orr’s nearest challenger after rounds of 67-69, followed by Dodd and Paul Streeter, another English player to land a maiden victory on the circuit this season in the Travis Perkins event at Woburn.

Andrew Oldcorn, who was three-over after six holes in his opening round before salvaging a 73, continued his recovery with a 67. That moved him into a share of sixth on two-under in a group that also includes former world No 1 Ian Woosnam and two-time winner Barry Lane.

Elsewhere, David Drysdale came home in three-under to remain in the mix in the KLM Open, sitting three shots behind the leader, Chris Wood, with a circuit to go at The Dutch, while Liam Johnston is a shot off the pace in the Kazakhstan Open after carding a third-round 64 in the big-money Challenge Tour event in Almaty.