Germany’s Bernhard Langer will form part of the chasing pack after a third round 72 left him nine shots off the pace going into the final day of the US Senior Open Championship at Salem Country Club.
Langer started the day three strokes off the lead in his attempt to win a third straight senior Major, however struggled in the afternoon wind to post two over par, finishing the day tied sixth behind Americans Kirk Triplett and Kenny Perry.
“I got off to a rough start,” said Langer. “It was really difficult with the gusty winds. It was tough. Just one minute it's blowing 25. The next minute, it was blowing five or ten. So it's just difficult.
“I just couldn't adjust. The greens were a little bit slower, a little bit more wiggly because of the rain that we had yesterday. Left a couple putts short and just got off to a bad start, three over after four, I think, and just shook me up a little bit. But eventually got into my rhythm again and started playing a lot better the last 10, 12 holes.
Triplett followed his 62-67 start to the tournament with an impressive 66 on Saturday to get to 15 under heading into Sunday, taking a one shot lead over Perry, who shot a 67 to back up his 65-64 start and sits at 14 under after 54 holes. Triplett’s 195 over the first three rounds is the lowest 54-hole score in the history of the tournament, with Perry's 196 second.
“It's phenomenal how they play,” said Langer. “I guess they're just egging each other on. When somebody's playing real good, the other one gets dragged along or is pushed along and feeds off it, and they're playing for birdies. They're not protecting the lead because they know there's someone right there.
“If one of them was 15 and the next one was nine, he may be playing a bit more cautious, but since there's two of them, they're just going to continue playing aggressive and great golf.
Meanwhile reigning Senior Open Champion Paul Broadhurst and former Major Champion Vijay Singh – currently second in the Order of Merit behind Langer – is a further shot behind at five under par.
“To get under one is a pretty good result today because it was tricky,” said Broadhurst.
“I missed a lot of putts, reading too much break in, and always missing top side, which is unusual for me. I normally miss low side. I think just a little bit slower than we're used to, perhaps not taking as much break as what we're reading.
“It's definitely a course for the bigger hitter, but they're scoring unbelievably well today. I could see it the first day and possibly yesterday, but a score like Brandt Jobe had today, eight under, couldn't see that at all, not in the wind we played in anyway.”