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