Vijay Singh leads Bernhard Langer by a stroke entering the final round at the Senior PGA.
Langer trails by a stroke entering final round of Champions Tour major
Even as they were trying to outdo one another, Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer allowed themselves moments of conversational levity during the third round of the Senior PGA Championship on Saturday, making light of ailments painfully familiar to players on the 50-and-over circuit.
Still, neither Singh’s bum foot nor Langer’s balky knee have impeded their bid to win the oldest senior major, with one shot separating them entering the final round at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling.
Singh’s 5-under-par 67 for a 54-hole total of 15-under 201 allowed him to overtake Langer for first place. Langer, whose 2 under produced his first score in the 70s this week, had led over the opening two rounds in pursuit of the only Champions Tour major, out of five, he has not won.
“We were talking a little bit,” Langer said of Singh, both playing in the final group. “He told me about his foot issues because I saw him hobbling down the hills, and I told him about my knee issues that I had a few months ago. That’s a common talk on this tour, what is hurting today and what was hurting last week, but it’s great to be out here with these guys.
“I mean, he played phenomenally. It was fun to watch some of the shots that he hit.”
Singh, 54, broke a tie to move ahead for good at the par-3 15th where his 8-iron tee shot came to rest within three feet of the flagstick. His putt hugged the left edge of the cup and dropped to get Singh to 14 under following Langer’s downhill 15-foot try that tailed to the left, leaving a two-footer he made for par.
Both carded birdie at the par-5 finishing hole. Singh set up his seventh birdie with a prodigious drive 208 yards short of the hole. His 5-iron rolled off the green into the rough, but Singh chipped within two feet and deposited his putt into the center of the cup in his first appearance at the Senior PGA.
With a considerably longer approach, Langer, 59, used a 2-hybrid that settled 30 feet above the hole. He cozied the delicate downhill putt inside a foot and cleaned it up for his third birdie on an afternoon when his ball striking was not as crisp as has been typical for the winner of last week’s Tradition, the first major of the year on the Champions Tour.
“He’s got a little different game,” Singh, winner of three majors on the PGA Tour, said of Langer, who won the Masters twice and is tied with Jack Nicklaus for most senior major titles (eight). “He hits the ball very straight. It seems like he doesn’t make a mistake. He’s a got game plan, and he’s a pretty hard competitor to break.”
Langer began the third round with a two-shot lead over Singh that held up through the first six holes. Then at the 560-yard par-5 No. 7, Singh set up a birdie with another lengthy tee shot. Langer, meanwhile, elected to lay up and settled for par going into four consecutive holes along the Potomac River.
The 457-yard par-4 eighth had surrendered no birdies in Round 3 until Singh’s 25-footer moved him into a tie with Langer, who had hit his approach into the sand and blasted out six feet past the cup. Langer’s putt to save par fell in off the left edge.
The ninth hole, a 304-yard par 4, illustrated vastly disparate approaches both yielding a positive result. Singh blasted his tee shot onto the front of the green for a look at a long eagle. Langer drove into the fairway, landed his approach within six feet and sank the putt for the second birdie in his round.
Singh lagged his first putt to four feet and made birdie to remain deadlocked with Langer at the turn.
But at the par-3 10th, Singh sent his tee shot into the rough, appearing distracted momentarily by unidentified noise. He glared into the gallery after making his swing, then chipped onto the green and missed his putt to save par while Langer drained his 10-footer to reclaim a onestroke margin.
Singh’s birdie at No. 13 drew him even with Langer, setting up the duo to play in the final group again Sunday along with Billy Andrade, who is at 12 under after a third-round 69.
“The only advantage I may have is maybe some of the par 5s where I’m going to be hitting a long iron or getting on to it, and [Langer] has to go with a wood or lay up,” Singh said. “But like I said, I’m going to try not to worry about him, but I will because he’s going to be with me. I’m playing well, and if I play well it’s going to be hard for him to beat me.”
Bernhard Langer is aiming to win his second major title in as many weeks on the 50-and-over tour.
Vijay Singh, a three-time major winner on the PGA Tour, has yet to claim one on the Champions Tour. He’s at 15 under after three rounds.