LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) — Fred Couples joked that someone will have to close with a 60 to catch Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open.
That might not be low enough.
Langer shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday to move to 10 under for the tournament, putting him ahead of a big-name field by four strokes.
"That's not a huge lead," he insisted. "That can disappear in no time. I'm going to have to get out there and shoot under par. That's my goal.
"If I go 2 under or 3 under, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me. And if they do, they deserve to win."
The two-time Masters champion opened with three straight birdies and eight in 12 holes at Indianwood, a course with tight and unforgiving fairways and undulating greens.
"He didn't win two Masters by luck," said Corey Pavin, who was in a five-way tie for second place. "He's an exceptionally good player, very methodical."
Langer didn't miss a green in regulation during the third round until the par-3 No. 13, where a double bogey cut his cushion to three shots. He bounced back with a birdie at 15 before giving that stroke back with a bogey at 18.
Pavin, Tom Lehman, Roger Chapman, John Huston and Tom Pernice Jr. were at 6-under 204.
Couples surged up the leaderboard with a 65 after starting the day tied for 25th place. He was part of a pack — along with Fred Funk and Jay Haas — that was five shots back in a tie for seventh at the Champion Tour's fourth of five majors.
What did Couples think it would take to get into contention with Langer in the final round?
"Sixty," he said. "How does that sound? Does that sound pretty good? Not really realistic.
"He's not going to come back. Corey and whoever is going to have to play a remarkable round to win. I'm at least inching closer."
While Langer was in his sensational stretch Saturday, first-round leader Tom Kite and second-round leader Lance Ten Broeck were struggling in the final group.
Kite finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for 17th, nine shots back. Since opening with a U.S. Senior Open nine-hole record 28, Kite is 6 over.
Ten Broeck, a full-time caddie for Tim Herron and occasional player, shot a 72 with three birdies and five bogeys. He is alone in 11th place, six shots back, after starting the round with a one-shot lead over Kite and a two-stroke edge on a group that included Langer. Continued...