POTOMAC, Md. (AP) — Mark O’Meara, looking for his first individual victory on the Champions Tour, shot a 1-under 69 Saturday for a two-stoke lead entering the final round of the Senior Players Championship.
O’Meara will be at 5 under going into Sunday at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. He is the only golfer in the field to shoot under par all three rounds.
“I felt like I played pretty well,” O’Meara said. “I was disappointed a little bit in my finish, but overall I felt like I hit some good shots. Anytime you keep shooting under par on this golf course is pretty good.”
The tournament is the last of the 50-and-over tour’s five major championships. The 53-year-old O’Meara has nine second-place finishes in four years on the Champions Tour. He was part of a team victory at the Legends of Golf event in April.
Two shots off the lead are second-round leader Russ Cochran (73), Michael Allen (72) and Loren Roberts (68).
“I made some putts and that’s the name of my game. That’s the best club in my bag,” Roberts said. “If I’m going to play well I’ve made some putts, and that’s what I did.”
Joe Ozaki is fifth at 2 under. Tim Simpson, Mike Reid and David Peoples all shot 68 and are tied at 1 under.
O’Meara was cruising with an 18-hole bogeyless streak until he missed a par putt at No. 16. He finished with another bogey on No. 18. O’Meara’s playing partners, Cochran and Allen, also struggled on the final three holes.
“We’re old,” O’Meara cracked. “This is the Champions Tour – we all ran out of gas out there.”
“Sometimes that’s just what happens,” he added. “Momentum shifts a little bit. But those are things that happen and you’ve got to bounce back from that. No one’s going to really run away I don’t think, myself included, so I have to be focused on what I’m doing.”
This is the first time O’Meara has been in sole possession of the lead going into the final round since his victory at the 1996 Mercedes Championship.
“There’s pressure on me,” O’Meara said. “So I believe that my best interest would be to try not to make any big mistakes, just try to play smart and make some putts. Usually, that’s what it takes – who putts well on Sunday. If I can stay focused and shoot in the red or make some birdies, then I should do all right.”
Roberts, a four-time major winner on the Champions Tour, has improved his score by one stroke each round.
“If I can get in with 67 or 66, I think that might be there depending on what Mark does,” Roberts said. “Mark’s so solid from tee to green, and this a ball striker’s course.”