Edmond, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Gene Sauers carded a 3-under 68 on Saturday to claim a 3-stroke lead heading into the final round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Sauers finished 54 holes at Oak Tree National at 7-under-par 206. Sauers is seeking his first win on the Champions Tour and first career major victory. His last professional win came at the PGA Tour's Air Canada Championship in 2002.
"You got to hit fairways here or you're not going to have any chance to holding the greens at all. My theory is just fairways and greens and hopefully have some birdie putts and hopefully a few of them will drop," Sauers said about his approach for the final round.
Bernhard Langer managed an even-par 71 to move into a share of second place with Scott Dunlap (72) at 4-under 209, while second-round leader Colin Montgomerie tripped to a 3-over 74 during his third round to fall into fourth place at minus-3.
Vijay Singh (71), Marco Dawson (69) and Jeff Sluman (72) shared fifth place at 2-under and were the final players in red numbers.
Montgomerie entered the day with a 1-stroke lead and opened his round with a birdie at the first to move to 7-under, extending his advantage to two.
He was handed a 3-shot lead when Dunlap bogeyed the second and third to fall to 3-under and leave Langer alone in second place at minus-4.
Montgomerie birdied the third and Langer birdied the fifth to remain three strokes apart before Montgomerie tripped to a bogey at the sixth to fall back to 7-under.
After Langer traded a bogey at the sixth with a birdie at the seventh to remain at minus-5, Montgomerie posted bogeys at the seventh and 10th to drop into a tie for the lead with Langer.
Dawson and Sauers, meanwhile, were making their way up the leaderboard to eventually join Montgomerie and Langer at 5-under.
Dawson had parred his first five holes before tripping to a bogey at the sixth, but he bounced right back with consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth.
He would stay hot around the turn with birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th to reach 5-under.
Sauers countered an opening bogey with gains at the seventh and 12th to make it a 4-way tie at minus-5.
Dawson lost his share of the lead with bogeys at the 16th and 17th before Montgomerie dropped shots at the 13th and 14th to leave Langer and Sauers tied at 5-under.
Dunlap briefly grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie at the 14th, but he gave that shot right back with a bogey at the 15th and parred his final three holes to end at 4-under.
Sauers then claimed the outright lead with a birdie at the 16th and after Langer bogeyed the 17th to hand him a 2-stroke advantage, Sauers closed his round with a birdie at the 18th to move three shots clear heading into the final round.
"I hit a lot of solid shots coming down the stretch," said Sauers. "Playing smart, I think, just playing within myself, not trying to do crazy things or trying to go at the pin and try to attack a pin and have something bad happen. Just playing smart is all I was really trying to do."
NOTES: Sauers' best finish this season was a tie for 15th at the Allianz Championship in February ... Langer's 71 marked just the fourth time in his last 39 rounds he did not post a score under par ... Langer is seeking his second major victory of the season after winning the Constellation Senior Players Championship ... Dunlap is searching for his first career win on the Champions Tour.