Up by a stroke, Langer an­gling for third se­nior ma­jor this year

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

owings mills, md. — With con­di­tions ripe for scor­ing fol­low­ing a soak­ing storm one night prior, the world’s top 50-and-over golfers took dead aim in Satur­day’s third round of the Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship.

Caves Val­ley Golf Club didn’t stand a chance.

By the time the fi­nal group fin­ished on an af­ter­noon with­out the sti­fling hu­mid­ity as­so­ci­ated with sum­mers here, Bern­hard Langer held a one-stroke lead over Brandt Jobe in the year’s fourth of five ma­jors on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons.

Langer fired a 6-un­der-par 66 for a 54-hole to­tal of 18-un­der 198 in his pur­suit of his fourth Se­nior Play­ers in a row as well as a third se­nior ma­jor this year and 10th over­all. The two-time Mas­ters win­ner passed Jack Nick­laus for most ca­reer se­nior ma­jors when he won the Se­nior PGA Cham­pi­onship last month at Trump Na­tional in Po­tomac Falls.

Jobe’s 7-un­der 65, the low round of the day, fea­tured five birdies and an ea­gle on the front side. He re­lin­quished the over­all lead he had held for much of the third round with con­sec­u­tive bo­geys at Nos. 16 and 17, where he put his tee shot at the 215-yard par 3 into the wa­ter.

Jobe chipped within inches of the cup for a tap-in bo­gey. Mo­ments ear­lier, Langer made a 10footer for his fi­nal birdie of the af­ter­noon.

“I’ve seen it all, or I think I’ve seen it all,” Langer said. “You just play your own game and make the best of it, and I knew if I would con­tinue to play well, I could make some birdies and keep in touch or close the gap, and it turned out I’m in front of [Jobe] and not be­hind him.”

No one else is within fewer than six shots of Langer, but five play­ers have reached at least 10 un­der on a pris­tine lay­out that has hosted its share of no­table events, in­clud­ing the 2002 U.S. Se­nior Open and the 2005 NCAA Divi­sion I men’s cham­pi­onship.

Corey Pavin, who played in the fi­nal group with Langer and Jobe, was four shots back go­ing to No. 18 be­fore shoot­ing dou­ble bo­gey there af­ter his tee shot landed in a creek. The 1995 U.S. Open cham­pion at Shin­necock Hills hit 4 of 14 fair­ways and scram­bled to shoot 1 un­der for a 54-hole to­tal of 12 un­der.

Scott McCar­ron is also at 12 un­der. Miguel An­gel Jimenez fin­ished the day at 10 un­der.

“When you’re play­ing Bern­hard, I’m just try­ing to shoot as low as I can be­cause I know he’s go­ing to keep go­ing,” said Jobe, who saved par at No. 18 by mak­ing a down­hill 10-footer. “He’s play­ing very, very well right now, so I fig­ure just keep go­ing. Made a cou­ple mis­takes com­ing in, and I’m be­hind again.”

Langer carded a bo­gey-free round, col­lect­ing birdies at Nos. 1, 4 and 9 on the front side. He added con­sec­u­tive birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 as part of yet another dis­play of ac­cu­racy off the tee and from the fair­way — one that has be­come rou­tine for one of the shorter hit­ters on tour.

Langer hit 13 of 14 fair­ways in the third round. His 38 of 42 fair­ways hit through three rounds are tied for third this week. He is also tied for first in greens in reg­u­la­tion af­ter hit­ting 16 of 18 on mov­ing day.

Jobe’s show­ing, mean­while, comes as lit­tle sur­prise given his re­sults at the last two se­nior ma­jors. He fin­ished third at the U.S. Se­nior Open and tied for eighth at the Se­nior PGA Cham­pi­onship. Jobe has four top 10 fin­ishes on the se­nior tour this sea­son , in­clud­ing a vic­tory at the Prin­ci­pal Char­ity Classic, and ranks sixth on the money list.

The high­light of Jobe’s round came at the 550-yard, par-5 se­cond, where he hit a 3-iron within three feet of the flag­stick on his ap­proach. Jobe sank the putt for his se­cond ea­gle this week at No. 2.

Langer and Jobe will be play­ing in the same group for the fourth straight day of the tour­na­ment dur­ing Sun­day’s clos­ing round.

“There’s a bunch of guys that are still in con­tention, and I have a one-shot lead,” Langer said. “If I had a seven-shot lead, I would ex­pect to win, but a one-shot lead — that can be gone on the first hole, bo­gey and birdie or some­thing like that. It means noth­ing.”

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