Round 3 Notebook: Regions Tradition

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June 09, 2012
Dave Senko, Champions Tour Staff

Weather: Mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-80s. Winds were from the ESE at 5-15 mph. Sunday's forecast calls for mostly cloudy weather with showers and thunderstorms likely.

Tom Lehman posted his third consecutive round in the 60s on Saturday, a 4-under 68, and holds a two-stroke advantage over Peter Senior and Jeff Sluman with one round remaining at the 2012 Regions Tradition. Lehman's round included three birdies and an eagle. His lone blemish came on No. 16 when he missed a 12-foot putt for par. Bill Glasson, the 18-and 36-hole leader, shot a 2-over 74 on Saturday and is T4, three strokes behind.

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• Lehman could possibly take the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup race should he win on Sunday. With 670 points available to the winner, Lehman's point total would jump to 1,046. Michael Allen is the current leader with 923 points and is T18. Bernhard Langer, who is currently T8, is third in the standings with 761 points.

• Should Lehman win on Sunday, he'd be the first Champions Tour player to defend his title since John Cook defended his 2009 Charles Schwab Cup Championship the following year. Two players have defended this title, including Jack Nicklaus in both 1991 and 1996. Gil Morgan was the other, winning at Desert Mountain in 1999.

• Lehman is bidding for his third major championship title on the Champions Tour. He won the 2010 Senior PGA Championship and then claimed this title in 2011. In addition to his win here last year, Lehman also owns a T4 and a T8 in the Regions Tradition.

• Through 54 holes at Shoal Creek, Lehman is 8-under on the front nine and 2-under on the back nine. A year ago he was 10-under through 54 holes, including 5-under on each nine.

• Lehman has led or shared the lead after 54 holes two times in his Champions Tour career. He was T1 after three rounds at the 2010 Senior PGA Championship where he eventually won a playoff against Fred Couples and David Frost. He was the 54-hole leader at the 2010 JELD-WEN Tradition before finishing T4.

• Lehman is the only player in the field to have posted three straight rounds in the 60s.

• Lehman is bidding to become the first player to defend a major championship since Allen Doyle at the 2006 U.S. Senior Open.

• Will Sunday's winners come from the final group? The odds are certainly working in that favor since the winner of the last 20 Champions Tour events has come from the final group. The last time the winner did not come from the final group was in early July, 2011 when Jeff Sluman rallied to win the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Jeff Sluman was in the third-to-last grouping going into the final round.

• Of the 21 Regions Traditions that have gone 72 holes, only nine have been won by the leader/co-leader after 54 holes. Fred Funk was the 54-hole leader in 2008, and Mark McNulty, the 2007 champion, was a co-leader after three rounds in 2007. Before McNulty, the last third-round leader to go on and win was Doug Tewell in 2001.

Peter Senior has to feel a little frustrated after two close calls in Birmingham the last two years. The Australian native played 54 holes of bogey-free golf in 2010 and finished T2 behind Dan Forsman in the Regions Charity Classic and then fell in a two-hole playoff to Tom Lehman a year ago. Perhaps his third Champions Tour start in Birmingham will be the charm

• Lehman and Senior, who battled through a two-hole playoff in 2011, will be paired again in Sunday's final round.

• Senior has put together some impressive nine-hole runs in his last three events. He closed his final round at the Senior PGA Championship with a 7-under-par 28 on his final nine holes and then started his opening round at last week's Principal Charity Classic with a 4-under-par 31. On Saturday, Senior shot a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine on his way to a tie for second, the low 9-hole score since the Regions Tradition moved to Shoal Creek.

• Lehman's 10-under-par 206 is the highest score to lead this tournament after 54 holes since 2002 when John Jacobs was at 10-under-par 206 Superstition Mountain, Ariz.

• Lehman could also become the second two-time winner of this tournament in the last five years. Fred Funk won in 2008 and 2010.

• It was 35 years ago on Sunday that Al Geiberger became the first player to break 60 in a PGA TOUR event when he shot 59 in the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.

• J.L. Lewis withdrew after his round due to illness.

David Frost is the only player in the field with two eagles through 54 holes.

• Senior and Rod Spittle each holed out from the fairway on Saturday. Senior sank a 5-iron shot from 185 yards on No. 7, while Spittle's eagle came on No. 11 when he holed a 71-yard wedge shot.

Fred Funk and Dennis Watson have each one-putted 28 of 54 holes. They each have just 80 putts through three rounds as do Brad Faxon and Corey Pavin. Frost leads the Champions Tour in Putts per Round in 2012.

• The field averaged 73.197, a slight increase over Friday's average of 72.803. There were 10 rounds in the 60s and 23 sub-par rounds. No.16 was the most difficult hole with an average score of 3.382. There was just one birdie -- Fuzzy Zoeller. The easiest hole was No. 6 and it yielded two eagles and 32 birdies.

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