Bernhard Langer remains poised to land back-to-back Senior Major Championships after firing a 68 to share the lead with Fred Couples going into the final round of the US Senior Open.
Langer, the only man to be under par for all three of his rounds at Sahalee Country Club, sank a 20 foot birdie putt on the last to tie for the lead with local Seattle Favourite Couples, who had the support of a 28,900 strong crowd.
Couples had posted a championship-low five under par 65 to surge through the field as he attempts to win his maiden Senior Major Championship – something Langer achieve last week by winning The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Carnoustie.
The pair are locked together on five under par, five strokes clear of the rest of the field which is led by Tom Kite (69) and Chien Soon Lu (68) at even-par 210, to set up a fascinating final day battle.
“There were some great cheers today. It sounded a bit like Augusta on the back nine, honestly,” Langer said.
“He’s a local boy and he has a lot of following no matter where we play in America, but especially from here. I’m sure there are many, many people rooting for him, but I’ve heard a few Germans out there and I might have my own 12 people cheering for me.”
Aside from his closing-hole effort, Langer’s birdies came on the par-4 fourth and the par-5 11th holes. His only setback was the 12th when a bit of tree trouble kept him short of the green on his approach and he made bogey.
He suffered the intricacies of Sahalee when his drive found the fairway on the 375-yard, par-4 16th hole, but ended up behind a tree that blocked him from going for the green.
“You feel stupid when you chip it ten yards,” he said. “You’re in the fairway and you’ve got to chip it 10 yards when you have 150 to the hole.”
But after chipping it 10 yards, Langer hit a great approach to three feet and saved par.
Couples was impressed with Langer’s three consecutive under-par rounds, as well as his own effort.
“I’m not saying if there was a U.S. Open [here] today we would be leading, but we would be very good right now and that makes me feel good because this course is brutal, not very easy at all.”
And Langer was equally forthcoming with praise for his rival’s display.
“It’s a great round from Freddie, absolutely, 65 is a fantastic score.”
European Senior Tour Member Peter Senior is tied for fifth on one over par with Michael Allen, John Cook and Tommy Armour III.