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Bernhard Langer leads U.S. Senior Open by 4 shots

Bernhard Langer watches his drive on the ninth hole during the third round. (Associated Press)
Bernhard Langer watches his drive on the ninth hole during the third round. (Associated Press)

Fred Couples joked that someone will have to close with a 60 to catch Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open at Lake Orion, Mich.

That might not be low enough.

Langer shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday to move to 10 under for the tournament, putting him ahead of a big-name field by four strokes.

“That’s not a huge lead,” he insisted. “That can disappear in no time. I’m going to have to get out there and shoot under par. That’s my goal.

“If I go 2 under or 3 under, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me. And if they do, they deserve to win.”

The two-time Masters champion opened with three straight birdies and eight in 12 holes at Indianwood, a course with tight and unforgiving fairways and undulating greens.

Langer didn’t miss a green in regulation during the third round until the par-3 No. 13, where a double bogey cut his cushion to three shots. He bounced back with a birdie at 15 before giving that stroke back with a bogey at 18.

Pavin, Tom Lehman, Roger Chapman, John Huston and Tom Pernice Jr. were at 6-under 204.

Couples surged up the leaderboard with a 65 after starting the day tied for 25th place. He was part of a pack – along with Fred Funk and Jay Haas – that was five shots back in a tie for seventh at the Champion Tour’s fourth of five majors.

Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett, who shot a pair of 69s in the first two rounds, had a 72 on Saturday and was tied for 19th at even-par 210.

Langer scored with his flat stick, making a pair of 20-foot-plus putts for birdies on the first two holes while building confidence on a course set up to be a tough test for the best 50-and-older golfers in the world. The 54-year-old German has nine top-10 finishes in his 11 previous Champion Tour events.

Troy Matteson shot a 5-under 66 to take a three-shot lead into the final round at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

Steve Stricker, who also shot a 66, sits in second place at 15 under in his quest for a fourth straight tournament title. Stricker birdied four straight holes beginning at the 14th, but bogeyed the par-4 18th, stubbing a chip shot and missing a 15-footer for par.

Both Matteson and Stricker bogeyed the last hole, setting up their final-round pairing together at TPC Deere Run, where Stricker, a Wisconsin native who was an all-American at Illinois, has become a local favorite by winning the last three years.

Molinari takes slim Scottish Open lead

Francesco Molinari held off a barrage of challengers on a third straight low-scoring day at the Scottish Open, shooting a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

The Italian, who held the overnight lead with Alexander Noren, remained consistent in changing weather around the Castle Stuart links at Inverness, Scotland, to stay in front at 17 under.

Anders Hansen is Molinari’s closest challenger after a 65, upstaging top-ranked playing partner Luke Donald (68), while Phil Mickelson also carded a 65 and is three shots back in a tie for fifth with three other players.

Vogel wins U.S. Amateur Publinx

T.J. Vogel made six birdies over a seven-hole stretch, coasting to a 12-and-10 win over Kevin Aylwin at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Midway, Utah.

With the victory, the University of Florida senior earned a spot in the 2013 Masters.