IF you are the owner of a convenience store in the parish of Gleneagles, then you may be gazing at one area of the shop that’s been stripped bare.

“We’re into Auchterarder to buy a load of Jelly Babies to keep us going because, wow, the Jelly Babies worked,” beamed Colin Montgomerie of an assault on the Senior Open title that was galvanised by an injection of this particular brand of confectionary.

While Darren Clarke and Paul Broadhurst top a terrific leaderboard heading into the closing round over the King’s Course on nine-under, good old Monty kept the home fires burning with a rousing surge for the line which lifted him to the six-under mark.

When things are not going very well out on the fairways and greens, Montgomerie tends to display the kind of tortured countenance of a man who’s over-indulged on a poke of Granny Sookers. Yesterday, he was in carnival mood after a late salvo of birdies at 16, 17 and 18 in a 68 kept his hopes of landing a fourth senior major alive. And the secret to this thrust? Why, it was those aforementioned Jelly Babies.

“My caddie and I were talking to Padraig Harrington about Jelly Babies and we decided to eat them on the back nine,” said the former Ryder Cup captain while prising clumps of said treats from his gnashers. “According to him they are the best food for everything. He (Harrington) has won a few majors so we thought we’d do the Jelly Baby trick.”

They seemed to work a treat. One-over after 15 holes of an increasingly soggy day in Perthshire, Montgomerie rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on 16, a 15-footer on the 17th and a decent one on the last to complete a morale-boosting triple whammy of gains in a 68.

Thirty years ago in 1992, Monty lost out on the Scottish Open title to Peter O’Malley here at the King’s Course when the Australian covered his last five holes in a jaw-dropping seven-under. “If I can do what he did over the last five holes, I could win,” added Montgomerie with a reflective smile.

Monty clearly has the bit – and some Jelly Babies – between his teeth. “I said at the start of the week, I wanted to contend and not just compete,” said the 59-year-old. “And now, we're beginning to think we're contending. Everyone can stand on the range and hit the ball. But it's all about what happens on the greens. And look who won last week (at The Open)? The best putter in the world probably right now in Cam Smith. If I can get the damn thing in the hole in the final round, there's a chance.”

While Monty was munching and moving, Broadhurst was making menacing advances with a spirited, defiant 66 in the worst of the weather which moved him into a share of the lead. Scotland has been a happy hunting ground for the former Ryder Cup player during his senior service. The 56-year-old has won a Senior Open and two Scottish Senior Open crowns in the home of the game. The canny Midlander upped the ante yesterday with three birdies in a row from the 13th and almost holed his second shot at the 15th when his approach rattled the flag.

Despite missing a six-footer on the last for the outright lead, Broadhurst was more than happy with his effort. With the likes of Clarke, Harrington, Monty, Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer in the top-10, he is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead. “There are some top names there,” he said. “I'm under no illusions, I'm going to have to go out and shoot a number.”

Clarke posted a battling 69 to join Broadhurst at the summit while Jerry Kelly and Steven Alker hover just a shot behind.

Pass the Jelly Babies, please.