Round 3 Notebook: U.S. Senior Open

July 31, 2010
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff

Today's Weather: Quite cool and overcast in the morning but sunny in the afternoon with highs in the low-70s and winds from the NW at 5-10 mph.

54-hole Leaderboard: T1 -- Fred Couples (-5/205), Bernhard Langer (-5/205); T3 -- Tom Kite (E/210), Chien Soon Lu (E/210); T5 -- Michael Allen (+1/211), Tommy Armour III (+1/211), John Cook (+1/211), Peter Senior (+1/211)

• For the first time since 2005 at NCR Country Club, there is a tie at the top after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open and both players are former Masters champions. Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, fired a bogey-free 5-under 65, the low round of the tournament and moved up into a tie for the lead with Bernhard Langer, a winner at Augusta National in both 1985 and 1993, who carded his third straight round in the 60s at Sahalee Country Club. Both players go for win No. 4 this year on the Champions Tour. Langer last won four times in a season in 2009 while Couples has never won four official TOUR events in a season. He claimed a career-best three titles on the PGA TOUR in 1992.

• The 5-under score to par by both Couples and Langer is the highest to par to lead after three rounds since Isao Aoki was the sole leader after 54 holes at Salem Country Club with a three-round total of 2-under 208.

• The winner of the U.S. Senior Open has come from the final pairing three times in the last four years (2007, the exception). In his rookie season on the Champions Tour, Couples has played in the final grouping on Sunday four times before tomorrow, winning on three occasions. He was in the last group at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and finished second to Tom Watson. This marks the fourth time this year Langer has been in the final grouping and he's won all three previous times, including last week's Senior British Open at Carnoustie where he enjoyed a three-stroke margin after 54 holes.

Year(s) Player Country
1980 Robert De Vicenzo Argentina
1987, 1988 Gary Player South Africa
1994 Simon Hobday South Africa
1997 Graham Marsh Australia
2008 Eduardo Romero Argentina

• Langer is bidding to become the first player since Tom Watson in 2003 (Senior British Open/JELD-WEN Tradition) to claim consecutive majors on the Champions Tour. If he wins tomorrow, Langer would also become the first player since Jay Haas in 2008 (Senior PGA Championship/Principal Charity Classic) to claim back-to-back starts. He's won back-to-back TOUR events one other time in his career. In 1985 on the PGA TOUR, Langer won his first Masters Tournament and then followed with a victory at the Sea Pines Heritage Classic. In 2009 on the Champions Tour, he won consecutive starts, claiming the Triton Financial Classic and then the 3M Championship. If he wins tomorrow, Langer would also become the first international player with multiple major titles in a season on the Champions Tour since 1988 when South African Gary Player claimed the Senior PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open and Senior British Open, an unofficial event at the time. Here's a list of the other foreign-born U.S. Senior Open champions:

Year Player/Country
1980 Robert De Vicenzo, Argentina
1981 Arnold Palmer, United States
1986 Dale Douglass, United States
1990 Lee Trevino, United States
1992 Larry Laoretti, United States
2002 Don Pooley, United States
2004 Peter Jacobsen, United States

• Couples played in 23 U.S. Open Championships and his best career finish was a T3 in 1991 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. He's bidding to the eighth player to win in his first U.S. Senior Open appearance. Here's a list of the other seven players who have won this championship on their first attempt:

Player Event Place of Birth/Residence
Bruce Lietzke 2002 TD Waterhouse Championship Kansas City
Hale Irwin 1997, 1999 Boone Valley Classic St. Louis
Jay Sigel 1998 Bell Atlantic Classic Philadelphia
Jim Colbert 1995, 1996 Las Vegas Senior Classic Las Vegas
Lee Trevino 1992, 1994 PGA Seniors Championship Palm Beach, FL
Jack Nicklaus 1991 PGA Seniors Championship Palm Beach, FL
Homero Blancas 1989 Doug Sanders Kingwood Celebrity Classic Houston
Larry Mowry 1988 Pepsi Senior Challenge Atlanta
Don January 1986 Senior Players Reunion Pro-Am Dallas

• In Champions Tour history, it's been rare when a player has won an official tournament in either the place he was born or lived at the time. Couples, a Seattle native, has a good chance to do that tomorrow. Here is the current list of players who have pulled off the feat after age 50:

• Since 1990, player(s) leading or co-leading the U.S. Senior Open after the third round have gone on to win the championship 10 times, including each of the last two years. Thus far in 2010, Saturday leaders/co-leaders have won eight of the 14 official events played. In the first two majors this year, both Tom Lehman (Senior PGA Championship) and Langer (Senior British Open) were leaders/co-leaders on Saturday and both went on to win.

Player Driving Distance Fairways Hit Greens in Regulation Putts
Couples 272.1 (T40) 27 of 42 (T17) 35 of 54 (T19) 83 (1st)
Langer 286.6 (7th) 27 of 42 (T17) 39 of 54 (T3) 88 (T7)

• Couples vs. Langer's statistics thru 54 holes:

Year Course Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Cumulative
2010 Sahalee CC 76.727 76.493 72.985 75.949 (+5.949)
2009 Crooked Stick GC 74.397 75.371 72.532 74.100 (+2.100)
2008 The Broadmoor 75.083 75.694 72.000 74.827 (+4.827)
2007 Whistling Straits 76.289 75.475 75.389 75.804 (+3.804)
2006 Prairie Dunes CC 74.917 75.266 71.328 73.837 (+3.837)
2005 NCR CC 74.245 74.209 72.625 74.227 (+3.227)
2004 Bellerive CC 75.155 74.092 72.267 74.624 (+3.624)
2003 Inverness Club 77.961 76.810 73.983 77.386 (+6.386)
2002 Caves Valley GC 76.799 75.474 73.175 76.137 (+5.137)
2001 Salem CC 76.622 74.869 72.984 75.746 (+5.746)
2000 Saucon Valley CC 74.619 75.129 72.388 74.045 (+3.045)

• Field Scoring Averages Through 54 Holes Of The U.S. Senior Open Since 2000:

• There were five eagles made today with three of them coming on par-4 holes. Javier Sanchez (No. 4, 6-iron,163 yds) and Mark Calcavecchia (No. 10, 7-iron, 175 yds) were playing together today. Jeff Hart (No. 18, 4-wood, 200 yds) had the third par-4 eagle today.

• Through three rounds at Sahalee, the par-4, 443-yard, 8th hole has played the hardest (4.615), yielding just nine total birdies for the week. The 508-yard, par-5, 2nd hole is ranked as the easiest this week (4.923), giving up six eagles and 107 total birdies.

• Tomorrow's U.S. Senior Open champion will earn a check for $470,000 from the $2.6 million purse and will also earn a whopping 940 Charles Schwab Cup points. Langer is currently just 17 points ahead of Couples in the 2010 Schwab Cup race. Points are awarded throughout the year based on top-10 finishes and dollar amounts won in events on a per-thousand basis ($100,000 equals 100 Charles Schwab Cup points). In addition to double points in all five major championships this year, the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship offers double points to those players who register a top-10 finish at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco.