FLOURTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bernhard Langer was all alone under par at windy Philadelphia Cricket Club.
The 58-year-old German star also was in position to win the Constellation Senior Players Championship for the third straight year, shooting a 1-under 69 on Saturday to reach 2-under 208 and take a three-stroke lead over Jay Don Blake into the final round.
"Sometimes par is a wonderful score," Langer said. "It's a real major, it's like playing the U.S. Open or whatever where par is a good score. So don't blame guys when they play for the middle of the green here and there because there's some long holes out there, some tough holes where most of the guys would be extremely happy to be in the middle of the green. That's what you have to do at times."
After playing the first 11 holes in 2 over with two birdies and four bogeys, Langer birdied the par-4 12th to get back to even par for the tournament. He added birdies on the par-5 15th and par-3 16th and closed with two pars on the A.W. Tillinghast-designed Wissahickon Course.
"It was nice to finish strong because the last couple days I had my issues with the back nine, but today was just kind of the opposite," Langer said. "Had an up-and-down start in the middle of the round, lots of bogeys and a bunch of birdies and just couldn't get it going. Mis-hit a few shots and just then had long putts from 30 yards, 25 yards and three-putted a couple times."
Difficult in any conditions, the Wissahickon Course has been a beast in th wind.
"That sun and the wind, the greens are getting pretty crusty, pretty fast," Langer said. "If you get yourself in the wrong place, if you're out of position, you're paying the price. You can't even get within 15, 20 feet many times. So, it's very strategic play. And with the kind of wind we had again, fairly strong and off a different direction today, it was a different golf course all together. It's just hard to position the ball where you would like to be underneath the hole when the wind is blowing like this."
Langer won in 2014 at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh and last year at Belmont in Massachusetts. He won the Regions Tradition last month in Alabama for his sixth senior major and 27th tour victory.
Blake made a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 71.
"Trying to just manage it around, trying to get the driver in play and then kind of go from there," Blake said. "Once you even get on the green, it's hard to even get aggressive. The greens are fast, the wind's blowing all over and you're kind of lagging to make putts. I hit some awful first ones and had to make some good putts coming back. But I feel good about my game. Just need to stay patient and try to execute some good shots."
Jeff Sluman (70), Woody Austin (71), Wes Short Jr. (72), Bart Bryant (72) and Brandt Jobe (74) were tied for third at 2 over.
Bryant birdied the 18th after dropping four strokes in a late four-hole stretch with a double bogey and two bogeys. He eagled the par-4 11th, holing out with a 6-iron from 187 yards.
"I just pulled it a little bit, hit it a little thin and I just didn't hit a great shot, but it somehow went in the hole," Bryant said. "I'd like to say I just pured it right where I was aiming, but I didn't, I pulled it a little bit. So it rolled out and it just happened to go in."
Vijay Singh was tied for 31st at 8 over. He followed rounds of 69 and 74 with a 75.
John Daly had a 70 to move into a tie for 59th at 12 over. He opened with two 76s.