Mark Calcavecchia, Lee Rinker and Rod Spittle shared a two-shot lead after the second round of the Senior British Open on Friday.
Calcavecchia -- one of three overnight leaders -- made six birdies in his 3-under 69. He was joined at 7 under by Rinker and Spittle, who each shot 67 at Walton Heath.
It’s the first time since 2004 that at least three players have held a share of the lead after 36 holes of a Senior British Open.
Australian Peter Fowler was two shots back after a 68, with Americans John Cook (67) and Mike Goodes (70) tied at 4 under. Defending champion Bernhard Langer faded with a 76, nine shots off the pace.
Fowler, a two-time winner on the European Senior Tour this season, holed a pitch shot for birdie on No. 16. England’s Kevin Spurgeon had the low round with eight birdies for a 66.
Bob Tway (70) and 2010 runner-up Corey Pavin (72) were tied at 3 under with England’s Barry Lane (70).
Tom Watson had a bogey-free 68 to move into contention at 1 under, along with Mark O’Meara and Tom Lehman, who each had a 72. Americans filled six of the top nine places, improving the likelihood of an eighth U.S. winner in nine years.
Australia’s Mike Harwood and Zimbabwean-born Mark McNulty shared the overnight lead with Calcavecchia, but finished at 74 and 76, respectively.
Calcavecchia and Rinker live near each other in Jupiter, Fla., and grew up playing junior golf together. However, their careers have taken different paths.
While the 50-year-old Rinker doesn’t have a career victory, Calcavecchia is best known for winning the British Open at Troon in 1989 and has 12 more wins on the PGATtour.
Calcavecchia is bidding to become the fourth player -- after Watson, Gary Player and Bob Charles -- to win both the British Open and Senior British Open.
“That would be awesome company to keep. They’re three Hall of Famers. That would be really special,” Calcavecchia said.
Rinker, in his first season on the Champions Tour, only sealed his spot at Walton Heath with a top-10 finish last month at Endicott, N.Y. He had five birdies in a blemish-free round.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position,” said Rinker, whose best showings were two second places in 1997. “But my game’s been coming along this year. We’ll see how I hold up.”
Spittle joined the American pair atop the leaderboard toward the end of the round, finishing with six birdies in the last 10 holes.
Langer had a double bogey on the par-4 No. 4, adding to three other dropped shots.
However, the two-time Masters champion made the cut, which came at 4 over. American amateurs Paul Simson (2 over) and Randy Haag (3 over) also made the cut.
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