Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie will have to overhaul American Gene Sauers if either of the former Ryder Cup Captains are to claim a second Major of the season at the US Senior Open Championship.
Montgomerie, who won the Senior PGA Championship to break his Major duck earlier in the year, began the day with a one shot lead over Scott Dunlap at Oak Tree National.
But the Scot, who missed just seven greens in regulation over the first two rounds combined, hit only six on Saturday in a three over par third round of 74.
Montgomerie had chipped in from the back of the third green for a second birdie of the day and at that stage led by four, but had just one further gain after a fine approach to the 15th and six bogeys.
That left the 2012 Ryder Cup Captain three under par for the week, four behind Sauers, who carded a joint best-of-the-day 68 and in contrast to Montgomerie – who failed to get up-and-down from in front of the final green - birdied the 18th from six feet.
Langer had two birdies and two dropped shots in a level par 71, a three-putt bogey at the 17th denting his hopes of adding to his Senior Players Championship victory.
“I probably should have had 69 today - I played well enough for that score,” the German said.
Of the searing heat in Ohio, Langer added: “It’s very difficult; we’re all old! It’s 95 in the shade and it’s just uncomfortable.
“It was really frustrating because I played really good on the back nine. I think I had four lip-outs but should have, would have, could have doesn’t count in this game.”
Dunlap was level with Langer on four under after a third round 72, with Fijian Vijay Singh amongst those tied for fifth on two under.