By Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff
Weather: Mostly sunny skies early on with overcast skies late in the day. High temperatures were in the mid-70s and winds from the SSW at 10-15 mph.
Bernhard Langer fashioned a 4-under-par 66 and forged a three-stroke lead over David Frost after three rounds of the 2013 Senior Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Langer started the day tied with Mark Wiebe but the World Golf Hall of Fame member made three birdies in his first seven holes to seize the advantage. After a three-putt bogey at the par-3 13th hole, Langer added a tap-in birdie on the par-5 15th and then converted a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th.
Bernhard Langer (68-67-66—201/-9)
-- Langer is making his 28th appearance in a senior major championship this week and has finished among the top 10 19 times in the previous 27 major events. He’s bidding to win his second Senior Open title in the last four years. He won the 2010 Senior Open at Carnoustie and then followed with a victory the next week at the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle. Of his five previous appearances in the Senior Open, he has never finished outside of the top 12.
-- Langer played at Royal Birkdale three times in his 29 career appearances in the Open Championship, finishing T9 in 1991 as well as T56 in 1983 and missed the cut in 1998.
-- Langer has played in 14 events on the 2013 Champions Tour with eight top-10s and a pair of wins -- the ACE Group Classic, the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship. Tomorrow, he is seeking to become the first three-time winner on the 2013 Champions Tour and should he win, Langer would claim three or more events in the same season for the fourth time in his Champions Tour career, a first for him since 2010 when he won five official titles that included a pair of senior majors.
-- If he should win tomorrow, Langer would join Gary Player (1988, 1990, 1997), Bob Charles (1989, 1993), Brian Barnes (1995, 1996), Christy O’Connor, Jr. (1999, 2000), Tom Watson (2003, 2005, 2007) and Loren Roberts (2006, 2009) as a multiple winner of this championship.
-- A Langer victory tomorrow would be his 19th career title on the Champions Tour and would tie him with George Archer, Larry Nelson and Gary Player for 10th place on the all-time wins list.
-- Langer is 2-5 when leading senior majors after three rounds. At the 2008 Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Langer enjoyed a one-stroke advantage over Jay Haas and Jeff Sluman but finished second. At the 2010 Senior British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, Langer was three strokes ahead of Corey Pavin and eventually defeated him by one stroke. One week later near Seattle, Langer and Couples were tied after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee and he went on to best Couples by three strokes. At the 2012 U.S. Senior Open, Langer was four strokes ahead of Roger Chapman but lost to Chapman by two strokes at Indianwood Golf & Country Club near Detroit. Last year in the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry, Langer was one stroke ahead of Fred Couples after 54 holes, but finished T6 after a final-round 75.
-- Langer is seeking to end a drought of 10 appearances in senior majors without a victory. He finished T13 at this year’s Senior PGA Championship, T10 at the Regions Tradition, 8th at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and T14 two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Open.
-- Langer is currently in fourth place in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, trailing leader Kenny Perry by 1,217 points. He could trim the deficit by a little more than half by earning 632 points with a victory on Sunday.
David Frost (68-68-68--204/-6)
-- Frost is making his fourth career appearance in the Senior Open Championship this week. He was T15 last year at Turnberry, 6th in 2011 at Walton Heath and T14 in 2010 at Carnoustie.
-- Frost made the first of his 21 career appearances in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale (MC) in 1983 and also played in three other Open Championships on this course – 1991 (MC), 1998 (T44), 2008 (T51).
-- Frost is making his 14th appearance on the 2013 Champions Tour and has eight top-10 finishes, highlighted by two victories this year – Toshiba Classic, Regions Tradition. He’s seeking to win multiple majors in a season for the first time in his career and three TOUR events in a year for the first time in his professional career.
-- In addition to his victory at the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek, his fifth career title on the Champions Tour, Frost was T27 at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and T20 at the U.S. Senior Open. He did not play in the Senior PGA Championship.
-- Frost is currently second on the Charles Schwab Cup points list, trailing leader Kenny Perry by 1,091 points in the season-long race. With a win on Sunday, he would not only match Perry with two major titles on the Champions Tour this year, but he would also earn 632 points and cut into an idle Perry’s sizeable lead.
Mark Wiebe (70-65-70—205/-5)
-- Making his sixth appearance in the Senior Open Championship this week and finished T6 at Turnberry last year. Is seeking to win his first title on the Champions Tour since the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn (49 events).
-- Wiebe made two appearances in the Open Championship in his career, but none at Royal Birkdale before this week.
-- Wiebe has played in 14 events on the 2013 Champions Tour and has yet to register a top-10 finish this season. He’s suffered through elbow and back injuries for most of the year and his best effort came in mid-February when he was T14 at the ACE Group Classic.
Third-Round Statistics at the Senior Open Championship
-- Players in the final grouping have won the last four events on the Champions Tour this year and nine of the 14 tournaments overall that have been played in 2013. At the Senior PGA Championship, Khoki Idoki was in the second-to-last group and came on to prevail. However, David Frost (Regions Tradition) and Kenny Perry (Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Senior Open) were in the final grouping on Sunday and went on to victory.
-- Only twice in the last 10 years has the winner of the Senior Open Championship not come from the final grouping. In 2009 at Sunningdale, Greg Norman , the leader, and Fred Funk were in the final pairing but Loren Roberts eventually won in a playoff. In 2003, Carl Mason led D.A. Weibring but Tom Watson rallied to beat Mason in a playoff.
-- Just four 54-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on the win the Senior Open Championship since the event became official in 2003 – 2004/Pete Oakley, 2005/Tom Watson, 2006/Loren Roberts, 2010/Bernhard Langer.
-- Bernhard Langer’s three-stroke lead after 54 holes at Royal Birkdale is the largest Saturday lead at the Senior Open since he enjoyed a three-stroke margin over Corey Pavin at Carnoustie in 2010. Langer’s 54-hole score of 9-under 201 is the lowest to par in the Senior Open since Greg Norman was 10-under 200 after three rounds at Sunningdale.
-- Spain’s Miguel-Angel Martin carded the low round of the day in the morning and matched Mark Wiebe’s 65 yesterday as the low round of the championship. Martin’s score on Saturday moved him up from T59 after 36 holes into a T13 thru three rounds, the biggest move by a player in the field.
-- Tom Watson’s three-stroke comeback in 2003 is the largest on the final day since the Senior Open Championship became official. Watson wonr, defeating Carl Mason in a playoff. Loren Roberts came from two strokes back on the last day in 2009 at Sunningdale but he also had to go into overtime for the victory.
-- Defending champion Fred Couples improved with a 2-under 68 today, but his 54-hole score of 4-over 214 is T22, 13 strokes off Bernhard Langer’s lead. Here’s how the other four former Senior Open Championship winners who made the cut stand after three rounds at Royal Birkdale this year: Bernhard Langer/2010 (-9)/1, Russ Cochran/2011 (+4)/T22, Tom Watson/2003, 2005, 2007 (+7)/T36, Bruce Vaughan/2008 (+9)/T56.
-- World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomerie, a winner of 31 events on the European Tour, improved his standing with a 1-under 69 today. Montgomerie is T13 thru 54 holes in his first Senior Open Championship.
-- After only 10 players broke par-70 in the opening round at Royal Birkdale and there were 17 rounds in the 60s on Friday, there were 13 sub-70 scores on Saturday. The field scoring average on Saturday was 71.838 (+1.838) vs 74.340 (+4.340) on Friday and 74.453 (+4.453) in Round 1.
-- For the first 54 holes, the par-4 13th hole has played as the most difficult (4.510) and yielded just 17 birdies. The par-4 6th hole has ranked as the second hardest (4.466) and has given up just 14 birdies. The par-5 15th hole has played as the easiest (4.871), giving up two eagles and 105 birdies over the first three days.
-- Gene Sauers leads the field in Greens In Regulation, averaging 15 greens per round (83%) for the first three days…Jamie Spencie has averaged 25 putts per round to lead the field in that category…Bernhard Langer has hit the most fairways for the first three days, averaging 11 per day.