Allen's lead shrinks to a pair at Senior Open

Michael Allen shot 2-over-par 72 on Saturday and saw his comfortable 5-stroke lead reduced to a pair entering the final round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship.

Allen's 36-hole lead was the largest in tournament history, but it didn't last, as the four-time Champions Tour winner managed just three birdies against five bogeys during an inconsistent third round at Omaha Country Club.

At 8-under-par 202, Allen sits two shots ahead of Kenny Perry and Fred Funk, who both took advantage of the opportunity to move within striking distance.

Perry mixed an eagle with six birdies and a bogey en route to a sparkling 64, while Funk, the 2009 champion, carded a 67 to jump into a share of second at 6-under-par 204.

"Today I had a few more bads than goods, but you know, I mean, it's fun," Allen said. "It's nice to be in the lead. If you'd have given me a 2-shot lead to start the week, I would have been pretty thrilled to have it, I'm sure."

Corey Pavin also fired a 64 and settled into fourth place at 4-under, one shot ahead of Rocco Mediate, who was alone in second place before stumbling to a third-round 72.

Ten players are knotted in sixth place at 2-under, including Tom Lehman (70), who tied for second with Funk, Pavin and Bernhard Langer last year.

"(Allen) is catchable now. So we'll see," said Funk, who birdied his final two holes to reach 6-under.

Allen still held his 5-stroke lead at the turn on Saturday.

The 2009 Senior PGA Champion played his opening nine at even-par, notching a tap-in birdie at the par-5 second before stumbling to bogey two holes later.

Mediate briefly moved within three strokes of the lead with birdies at Nos. 2 and 6, but he closed his outward nine with back-to-back bogeys, and the 5- stroke margin was intact.

Around the turn, Allen faltered.

The 54-year-old bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, lipping out par putts on both holes, as Perry moved within two shots of the lead courtesy of back-to-back birdies from the 16th.

Perry parred the last to hit the clubhouse at 6-under as Allen drained a 15- footer for birdie at the 13th to reach minus-9.

Allen added another birdie at the 14th, pushing his advantage to four, but he stumbled to a pair of bogeys down the stretch, beginning with a missed 5-foot par putt at the 16th.

At the par-4 last, Allen found the rough off the tee and was short with his second shot. He chipped onto the green, but still had a lengthy look for par, which he narrowly missed, dropping to 8-under in the process.

"I think the best thing that could happen is to get it a little bit closer than away because I've got to go out there and be aggressive and try to take the lead and really play," said Allen. "I can't just sit back and try not to make mistakes and hope that things work out. Now I've got a fire under my rear, and I got to get moving."

NOTES: This marks the second time Allen has led after three rounds of a major championship on the Champions Tour. The other time came at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club, where he held a 1-stroke lead after three rounds and went on to win by two strokes in his debut on the tour ... Allen played 369 PGA Tour events without a win. His four Champions Tour wins have come in 71 starts ... If Funk wins on Sunday he will join Miller Barber (1982, 1984, 1985), Gary Player (1987, 1988), Jack Nicklaus (1991, 1993), Hale Irwin (1998, 2000) and Allen Doyle (2005, 2006) as a multiple winner of this championship.