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Watson leads by 3 at U.S. Senior Open

HAVEN, Wis. (AP) — Tom Watson knows all about playing in the wind, and he has five British Open titles to prove it.

When the flags finally started flapping at Whistling Straits on Saturday, it shouldn't have been a surprise that Watson stayed at the top of the U.S. Senior Open leaderboard.

The course that looks more like a potential British Open site than a slice of central Wisconsin found its signature windy "whistle" on Saturday, and Watson handled it better than the players trying to chase him down.

"I've been pretty good at that over my career," Watson said. "So, the conditions here were kind of like that today."

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On a day when only eight players scored under par, Watson shot a 1-over-par 73 to carry a 3-shot lead into the final round on Sunday. Watson is 7 under for the tournament, and his closest pursuer is Loren Roberts at 4 under. John Ross, Sam Torrance and Vicente Fernandez are tied at 3 under.

After relatively docile conditions through the first two rounds, players had to contend with winds that blew at an estimated 10-20 mph and got stronger throughout the day. Even harder winds are forecast for Sunday's final round — an advantage, perhaps, for Watson.

"We all know what he can do in the wind," Roberts said. "He's a great ball striker."

But even Watson didn't have it easy Saturday.

Watson frittered away his early lead, shooting 3-over-par on the front nine and dropping into a tie with Roberts. But Watson recovered on the back nine, and regained the three-shot lead he held going into Saturday when Roberts made a double-bogey on the par-3 17th.

"Even though I didn't hit the ball very well, it was a very good round of golf," Watson said.

Watson's struggles began when he missed an 8-foot putt for par on the first hole. Watson birdied the fifth hole, but bogeyed Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to leave the front nine in a tie with Roberts at 5 under.

Watson birdied the 10th as Roberts made bogey, but Roberts birdied the 11th and caught Watson to tie for the lead again on the par-4 14th. Roberts sank a long birdie putt, then watched as Watson missed his own 6-foot putt for birdie.

Roberts hit his second shot on the par-5 16th into the rough. He recovered to make par, but Watson made a 15-foot birdie putt to retake the lead at 7 under.

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