By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Media Staff
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Roger Chapman used eight birdies Saturday to card a 7-under 64 in the third round and open up a five-stroke lead over John Cook through 54 holes of the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Chapman led Cook by just one stroke at the turn, but the Englishman made five birdies in his first seven holes on the back nine, including three in a row on Nos. 10-12, to shoot 5-under 30, the lowest nine-hole score of the championship.
Chapman’s 64 matched Michael Allen’s 7-under round on Friday as the best score in this event and he also matched Chandler Harper’s 64 in 1968 as the lowest third-round score in Senior PGA Championship history.
--Chapman is now the first international player to have sole possession of a 54-hole lead in a senior major championship since Germany’s Bernhard Langer led by three strokes after three rounds of the 2010 Senior British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland.
--Chapman is bidding to become the third Englishman to win a title on the Champions Tour. Coincidentally, both Tony Jacklin (1994 First of America Classic in Grand Rapids) and Mark James (2004 Ford Senior Players Championship in Dearborn) claimed their initial Champions Tour wins in the state of Michigan. James was also the last Englishman to win on the Champions Tour, claiming the 2007 Allianz Championship.
--Chapman is attempting to claim his first Champions Tour title in his 16th career start on the circuit and he could join Corey Pavin as the second first-time winner on the Champions Tour this year. He holds a 54-hole lead on the Champions Tour for the first time in his career. He was tied for 27th through 54 holes of last year’s Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla, his previous-best position in a 72-hole Champions Tour event.
--Chapman is also attempting to become the first Englishman to win a Senior PGA Championship and the first European to win since Jock Hutchison from Scotland in 1947. He could also become the seventh different international winner of this prestigious championship (first since Zimbabwe’s Denis Watson in 2007).
--Chapman is the second player on the Champions Tour this year to enjoy a five-stroke lead after Saturday. Last month near Tampa, Michael Allen enjoyed a five-stroke lead at the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am and eventually won the event by three strokes.
--Cook is seeking his ninth career title on the Champions Tour and first victory since the Montreal Championship on July 3, 2011. Cook is also looking to claim his first senior major. He has finished in second place in three different majors, losing each in a playoff – 2008 Senior British Open (to Bruce Vaughan), 2009 Regions Tradition (to Mike Reid), 2011 Constellation Senior Players Championship (to Fred Couples).
--The biggest final-round deficit Cook has overcome thus far in his Champions Tour career is three strokes, shooting 64 on Sunday at the 2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship to overtake Russ Cochran. Cook overcame a six-stroke deficit on the last day to win the 2001 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of his 11 PGA Tour titles.
--In the last major championship of the 2011 season, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, Cook found himself tied for second through 54 holes at Westchester Country Club, one stroke back of Fred Couples. He eventually lost to Couples on the third hole of a playoff. Cook’s best finish in four previous appearances in the Senior PGA Championship was a tie for 13th in last year’s event at Valhalla Golf Club.
--Sunday’s winner will earn 756 Charles Schwab Cup points. Michael Allen, currently tied for seventh at the Senior PGA Championship, leads the 2012 Charles Schwab Cup race with 923 points with Bernhard Langer 350 points back. Double points are awarded in the Champions Tour’s major championships to the top-10 finishers and to all players qualifying for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The player earning the most Charles Schwab Cup points at the end of the official season will receive a $1 million payout.
-- Chapman’s five-stroke lead is the largest after 54 holes in a 72-hole Senior PGA Championship since Hale Irwin enjoyed a five-stroke margin after three rounds of the 1998 event at PGA National Golf Club.
--Since 2000, five leaders/co-leaders after 54 holes have gone on to win the Senior PGA Championship – Tom Lehman (2010), Michael Allen (2009), Hale Irwin (2004), Tom Watson (2001), Doug Tewell (2000). The biggest final-round comeback in the Senior PGA Championship since 1987 was six strokes by Chi Chi Rodriguez at PGA National Golf Club that same year.
--Through 54 holes, Russ Cochran has missed just one fairway, hitting 38 of 39 (97.44%). Chapman leads in greens in regulation, hitting 48 of 54 (88.89%). Joe Daley has averaged 1.629 putts per green in regulation. Chapman has made 18 birdies, the most by a player in the field.