Couples keeps lead at Senior Players
HARRISON, N.Y. - Fred Couples shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Senior Players Championship, the Champions Tour's final major of the season. Couples is at 11-under 202, ahead of Australian Peter Senior, who remained second after a third-round 68 and was tied with John Cook, who moved up from fourth with a 66. Corey Pavin was fourth at 8 under after a 69. "It was a good day," Couples said. "I drove the ball well. The best thing I did is I felt I hit the ball solid. It was a good round, not great, but I'm still in the lead and I'll have to have a better round tomorrow." Tom Lehman shot a 67, finishing in a four-way tie for fifth at 207 with Tommy Armour III (67), Mark Calcavecchia (67), defending champion Mark O'Meara (69) and Jeff Sluman (69).Couples, Senior and Pavin were the last trio teeing off at the Westchester Country Club's tree-lined West Course, and the 51-year-old Couples' booming drives drew some of the loudest cheers from fans following him on each hole. Couples began with pars on the first four holes, then took the lead with a birdie on No. 5 and followed that with a long birdie on the seventh hole. Those were two of Couples' three birdies, though none were on the back nine. Couples maintained his two-stroke lead with pars on the final nine holes as his nearest competition failed to gain ground. Couples' steady and consistent round has put him on the verge of winning his first Champions Tour major. He won the 1992 Masters by two strokes over Raymond Floyd. "Winning is winning," Couples said. "It's hard to win Augusta, hard to win U.S. Open, hard to win the British Open, so any golf tournament is hard to win. For me, tomorrow is a big day to see if I can win a tournament."Cook had the best opportunity when Couples failed to reach the fairway for the first time on No. 15 and missed a birdie putt. Cook's birdie putt on No. 16 nearly went in, but it grazed the top of the hole before rolling out and he finished with par on the final two holes. Cook is in good position for his fourth Champions Tour victory of the year and ninth overall, while Senior has an opportunity to be the first Australian to win a major on the Champions Tour since Stewart Ginn in 2002. Pavin was three strokes back with a birdie on No. 16 but could not get any closer. PGA: Webb Simpson shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday to move to 15-under 195 and take a two-stroke lead after three rounds at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. The Raleigh native and former Wake Forest player had four birdies and an eagle during his late charge at the final event before the PGA Tour's playoffs start next week. Tommy Gainey (69), who led or shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, was 13 under. Carl Pettersson (63) and John Mallinger (65) were 12 under. Daniel Summerhays (68) was 11 under, and Billy Horschel (66), Charles Howell III (66), Jason Bohn (67), Retief Goosen (68) and Ernie Els (69) were another stroke back. LPGA: Na Yeon Choi took a three-stroke lead in the Safeway Classic, shooting a 2-under 69 to reach 8 under on Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club's Ghost Creek course in North Plains, Ore. The South Korean star, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had three birdies and a bogey in the second round after reeling off seven consecutive birdies in her opening 65. Stacy Lewis was second after a 68. She started the round with four consecutive birdies, but dropped three strokes with bogeys at Nos. 5, 9 and 10. Mika Miyazato (67) was third at 3 under. PGA EUROPEAN: Steven O'Hara of Scotland shot a 7-under 65 to share the lead after the third round of the Czech Open. O'Hara made seven birdies to join Oliver Fisher of England (68) at 10-under 206.