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Notebook: Tidbits from Day 3 at Oak Hill
At the 1985 British Open at Royal St. George's, he shared the three-round lead with David Graham and went on to finish tied for third, two strokes back of Sandy Lyle. At the 1993 Masters, Langer led Chip Beck by four strokes after three days of play and eventually defeated Beck by four. At the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham, Langer was tied with Alex Cejka, David Duval and Ian Woosnam through three rounds and he eventually finished tied for third, four strokes back of Duval.
The last time Langer was a 54-hole leader/co-leader in an event was at the 2007 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, this week's stop on the PGA Tour. He was tied with Jim Furyk, Rory Sabbatini and Scott Verplank through three rounds in Fort Worth and eventually lost in a playoff on the first hole when Sabbatini made birdie.
Five of the last six winners of the Senior PGA Championship have come from behind on the last day for victory. Denis Watson was the most recent, rallying from two strokes back last year to defeat Eduardo Romero by two strokes. Before Watson, Jay Haas in 2006, Mike Reid in 2005, John Jacobs in 2003 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 2002 came from off the pace for victory. During this period, only Hale Irwin, the 2004 champion at Valhalla, was able to protect a third-round lead in this event.
The winner on Sunday will earn 720 Charles Schwab Cup points. Points in the season-long Schwab Cup race are awarded based on top-10 finishes and dollar amounts won in events on a per-thousand basis (i.e. $80,000 equals 80 Charles Schwab Cup points). Points are doubled in all five major championships on the Champions Tour and also at the season ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Bernhard Langer currently leads the Schwab Cup competition with 981 points and Scott Hoch is in second place, 161 points back. Jay Haas holds down the third spot, 289 points back of Langer. At the end of the official season, the player earning the most points will receive a $1 million payout from Charles Schwab.
For the first time since the 1984 U.S. Senior Open at Oak Hill, the leader in a Champions Tour event has a score over par through three rounds. Hale Irwin was the last player to win with an over-par total score, claiming the 1998 U.S. Senior Open at Riviera near Los Angeles with a 1-over score for 72 holes.
Twenty-four years ago here in Rochester, Arnold Palmer was the 54-hole leader at 4-over 214, one stroke ahead of Miller Barber. After carding a final-round 71 on the East Course, Barber eventually defeated Palmer by two strokes for the second of his three U.S. Senior Open titles. Last year at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C., only four players were under par through 54 holes of the Senior PGA Championship.
Hometown favorite Jeff Sluman has a chance to accomplish a rare feat should he win Sunday in front of the partisan fans at Oak Hill. Since the start of the Champions Tour in 1980, only one other player has a major championship win as his PGA Tour title and first Champions Tour title -- Jack Nicklaus (1962 U.S. Open, 1990 Tradition at Desert Mountain).
However, in the history of senior golf, two other players have accomplished the feat. Julius Boros won his initial PGA Tour event at the 1952 U.S. Open and then claimed the 1971 PGA Seniors' Championship. Jack Fleck won the 1955 U.S. Open and then won the 1979 PGA Seniors title. Both victories came in playoffs.
With Bernhard Langer of Germany leading through three rounds, there's a chance that the 2008 Senior PGA Championship winner could also become the sixth international to win this event. The others are Jock Hutchinson (Scotland, in 1937 and 1947); Roberto De Vicenzo (Argentina, in 1974); Peter Thomson (Australia, in 1984); Gary Player (South Africa, in 1986, 1988 and 1990); and Denis Watson (Zimbabwe, in 2007).
Bruce Vaughan made his first hole-in-one on the Champions Tour and eighth overall in his career Saturday when he aced the 164-yard sixth hole with a 7-iron. This is the second consecutive year that a player has made a hole-in-one in the Senior PGA Championship. Last year, PGA Club Professional Ron Stelten of Palm Desert, Calif., recorded an ace in the final round on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Golf Resort.
In addition to Vaughan's ace, both Denis Watson and Jay Haas holed second shots on par 4s for eagles. Watson's eagle came at the par-4 ninth hole when he holed a 9-iron shot from 144 yards. Haas' eagle came when he holed a 8-iron from 162 yards out of the left rough at the par-4 17th hole.
Scott Simpson had the only round in the 60s Saturday, posting a 1-under 69 that included a back-nine score of 31 (five birdies, one bogey). Simpson's round moved him up 23 spots into a tie for fourth. Simpson was tied for 51st after a 76 in the opening round on Thursday.