OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — While Brandt Jobe was ripping up the golf course, the unflappable Bernhard Langer steadfastly remained in the hunt.
Sure enough, by the time the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship drew to a close Saturday, Langer’s unspectacular bogey-free 6-under 66 was good enough to put him atop the leaderboard.
Langer finished the day at 18 under, good for a one-shot lead over Jobe.
Jobe bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 and settled for a 65. Corey Pavin (71) and Scott McCarron (69) were tied for third at 12 under.
The 59-year-old Langer trailed by two shots after Jobe birdied No. 15, but he made up three strokes over the next two holes to take control of the major tournament he’s won the last three years.
“You want to continuously play well, make very few mistakes,” Langer said. “That’s my goal. You don’t always achieve it, but so far, so good.”
Jobe was 9 under after 15 holes and very much in contention to break the Caves Valley Golf Club record of 63, set in 2005 by James Lepp in the NCAA championships.
But he made his first bogey of the day on No. 16 and followed by hitting his tee shot into the water on 17. That led to another bogey, and Langer subsequently dropped in a 10-foot birdie putt on 17 to take the lead.
“Just a stupid mistake on 16, and I kind of carried that over to 17,” Jobe said.
He will have a chance to make up for it Sunday, playing in the final twosome of the day with Langer.
“I’m going to have to play a very, very good round because I know he’s going to go out and play well,” Jobe said.
If Langer wins the tournament, his run of four successive victories in the same event will be the second-longest streak in PGA Tour Champions history, trailing only Hale Irwin’s five straight titles in the Turtle Bay Championship.
Langer is taking nothing for granted.
“If I had a seven-shot lead I would expect to win, but a one-shot lead can be gone on the first hole,” he said.
Langer and Jobe began their day by playing the final two holes of the second round, which was suspended by rain on Friday with 30 golfers still on the course.
To make up for the time lost, all players were grouped in threesomes. Langer, Jobe and Pavin began their fascinating five-hour duel with a trio of birdies on No. 1.
“We all birdied the first hole and I thought, ‘Oh, here we go,'” Jobe said.
Jobe gained a share of the lead by sinking a 2-foot putt for eagle on the 550-yard, par-5 second hole.
Jobe completed his 7-under front nine by making a twisting 25-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and nailing a 40-footer on 9.
Langer, meanwhile, hit his tee shot on No. 7 off a tree and still managed to par the hole.
“That’s how he plays,” Jobe said. “There’s no give up in him. He’s playing very good golf right now.”
Over the first 15 holes, the threesome of Jobe, Pavin and Langer combined for an eagle, 16 birdies and only one bogey.
“Brandt played extremely well early on,” Langer said. “Just looked in total control.”
The shot of the day was delivered by Fred Funk, who had a hole-in-one on No. 17, a 215-yard par 3.
“I thought I saw it disappear, but I wasn’t sure,” Funk said. “It’s exciting when you actually hit what you’re aiming for.”
He was tied for 11th at 6 under after a 69.
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