BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Tom Lehman knows how vulnerable a two-stroke lead can be going into the final round of the Regions Tradition.
Lehman built that margin over Peter Senior and Jeff Sluman after shooting a 4-under 68 on Saturday in the third round of the Regions Tradition, a Champions Tour major.
Lehman trailed Mark Calcavecchia by two shots entering Sunday a year ago at Shoal Creek and wound up beating Senior in a playoff.
“It's the same situation as last year,'' Lehman said. “A bunched-up field. A lot of guys close. It's a good position to be in.''
Just not necessarily a secure one.
Lehman had a 10-under 206 total at Shoal Creek. Senior shot 66, and Sluman 70 on an overcast, gusty and sometimes drizzly day.
Lehman said he'll stick to a similar plan on the final day.
“If I go play my game and play the way I've been playing, it's going to take a good round to catch me,'' he said. “But likewise, if I don't, if I slip up some, there's a lot of guys close by. Two shots is nice, but it's not over by any means, not even close.''
Lehman opened with consecutive rounds of 69. His only bogey Saturday came on the 16th and he described that as poor luck not poor play.
“It was a beautiful putt that missed. Looked like it couldn't miss, but did,'' he said.
Bill Glasson held the lead for all but the tournament's first hole coming into the day, but fell three shots back with a 74. He was tied with Russ Cochran, Brad Bryant and Fred Funk. Bryant and Funk shot 71, and Cochran had a 72.
Glasson had a double bogey on the par-5 11th hole, when he got stuck on the lip of a bunker, and he also bogeyed No. 15. He remains in contention for his first win since the PGA Tour's 1997 Las Vegas Invitational.
“It was a tough day,'' Glasson said. “I was too amped-up early and just kind of hit over every green. My short game's so bad. I made a double and two bogeys with wedges.
“I'm three back. Somebody else will have to sleep on the lead and maybe I'll get back to the way I played the first couple of days.''
With stormy weather expected Sunday, the final round is scheduled for an early two-tee start.
Then maybe another Lehman-Senior showdown.
Senior, from Australia, lost to Lehman on the second hole of a playoff last year when his 5-foot par putt lipped out.
Senior shot a 30 on the first nine holes, with four birdies plus an eagle on the par-4 seventh.
His first misstep was a bogey on No. 12 that cost him a share of the lead with Lehman and Glasson at the time.
“At the outset, I needed to shoot around this score that I shot, so I was pretty happy with it,'' Senior said. “When I was 6 under after seven, I sort of looked to get a little bit greedy. But a couple more would have been nice.''
The last Champions Tour player to lose in a playoff and then win the same tournament the next year was Nick Price in the 2010 Principal Charity Classic.
Senior is still seeking his first Champions Tour victory but has been second five times.
“I would dearly love to win,'' he said. “I've had plenty of opportunities, but that's probably the only thing that I'm looking forward to now is winning.''
Sluman has sandwiched two 70s around a 68. He eagled the par-5 No. 3, though that was negated by flanking bogeys.
“At the start of the week if you'd said I'd be two back going into Sunday, I'd have taken it,'' Sluman said. “I played fairly conservatively. I just had a little trouble with the speed of the greens. I think a lot of the guys are.''
Even the contenders took a few lumps from Shoal Creek.
Cochran, who opened two shots behind Glasson, lost ground with a bogey on No. 4. He had to split two pine trees after his drive sailed left but three-putted from the top of the green.
Chien Soon Lu, from Taiwan, was within a shot of the lead until the final hole. He triple bogeyed for a 69, when he overshot the green and had his chip shot roll off the front. He was 3 under for the tournament and four shots back.
Bryant was still within a stroke of the lead before double bogeying No. 8, getting caught first in the water and then the bunker behind the green.