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

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG gene.wamg@wash­post.com

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.”

PHO­TOS BY ROB CARR/GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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