Strong fin­ish sees Langer leading by three

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS GOLF - By Will Graves

PITTS­BURGH — Bern­hard Langer spent 45 anx­ious min­utes Fri­day night won­der­ing if the driver he has used the last two years would be healthy enough to make it to work Satur­day.

For­tu­nately, a Cham­pi­ons Tour club tech­ni­cian was able to find a re­place­ment screw for the one that busted in­side the club­head at the end of Langer’s sec­ond round at the Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship. The “gamer” back in his ever steady hands, Langer moved closer to his third ma­jor ti­tle on the 50-and- over cir­cuit, over­com­ing a slow start to shoot a 4-un­der 66 in the third round and stay in front of hard-charg­ing Kenny Perry at Fox Chapel.

“There’s al­ways slight doubts,” Langer said. “You’re putting some­thing to­gether. They say it’s the same, but you’re never sure it’s the same... I was con­vinced it was very close to the same. You don’t want it to get into your head.”

It hardly looked like Langer was both­ered while mov­ing to 15-un­der 195 through 54 holes at an event where he has five top-10 fin­ishes but no vic­to­ries. The two-time Masters champ hit 10 of 14 fair­ways and shot a 4-un­der 31 on the back nine to re­gain con­trol af­ter briefly los­ing the lead to Perry.

Perry, try­ing to join Arnold Palmer as the only player to win the Se­nior Play­ers in con­sec­u­tive years, was three be­hind af­ter a 65 he al­lowed could have been even bet­ter. Still, the deficit is hardly daunt­ing for Perry, who trailed Fred Cou­ples by two head­ing into the fi­nal round last June only to emerge with the first ma­jor of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

“Hope­fully, the re­sults will be the same,” Perry said, laugh­ing.

Russ Cochran, Joe Du­rant and Bill Glas­son were four back. Cochran had a 63, the low round of the day. Du­rant shot 67, and Glas­son had a 68.

Jeff Sluman was at 10 un­der fol­low­ing a 64 as the field be­gan to spread out be­hind Langer.

Not that Langer is tak­ing any­thing for granted.

“I still have got to shoot un­der par to­mor­row,” he said. “I feel Kenny Perry is go­ing to go un­der par. There’s still 18 holes to play.”

Maybe, but Perry knows Langer isn’t go­ing to come back to the pack. Perry es­ti­mated it would take a 63 to make things in­ter­est­ing to­day.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

GENE J. PUSKAR / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bern­hard Langer waves to the gallery af­ter sink­ing a birdie putt on the 15th green Satur­day.

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