French Lick, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending champion Colin Montgomerie carded a 2-under 70 in Saturday's third round and moved three strokes clear of Bernhard Langer at the Senior PGA Championship.
Montgomerie completed 54 holes at 5-under-par 211. He is looking for his third victory on the Champions Tour, and third major championship title as well.
"I'm glad that putt went in at the last. Yes, delighted with the day's performance," Montgomerie said. "It was going to be tricky, of course it's going to be tricky, there's no question. It's a very, very difficult golf course. It's back to proper major golf, where par means something."
Langer, the 2008 runner-up, moved into second place at minus-2 with a 3-under 69 in the third round on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort.
Scott Verplank (70), Esteban Toledo (73) and Brian Henninger (74) are the only other players in red figures at 1-under-par 215.
Steve Jones matched the low round of the day with his 4-under 68. He soared into a share of sixth place at even-par 216. Jones was joined there by Sandy Lyle (70) and Woody Austin (72).
Second-round leader Tom Lehman struggled to five bogeys on the back nine en route to a 6-over 78, which dropped him into a tie for 13th at plus-2.
Montgomerie stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the first, which dropped him to minus-2 and two behind Lehman. As Montgomerie ran off seven straight pars from the second, Lehman faltered.
The second-round leader dropped a shot at three, but came back with a birdie at the fifth. Lehman tripped to back-to-back bogeys at six and seven to dip to minus-2. He got one back with a birdie at the ninth, but Lehman bogeyed five of the last nine holes to fall from contention.
Montgomerie dropped in a birdie at the ninth, and another at the 11th to move to minus-4. The Scotsman parred six straight from the 12th. At the last, he stuffed his approach within two feet and kicked that in for a closing birdie.
"I was delighted only to drop one shot today, which happened to be the first from the middle of the fairway. It was a crazy second shot. I don't know what I was doing, I just pulled an approach wedge left of the green and then unfortunately made bogey," explained Montgomerie. "But to play the rest of the round 3-under with no mistakes was a good effort. And I'm very proud of what I achieved today, because you had to play chess with the course."
Langer traded a birdie for a bogey from the first. He birdied the fifth and jumped to minus-2 with a hole-out eagle at the par-4 eighth.
Around the turn, Langer slid back to even-par with bogeys at 13 and 16. However, he birdied the final two holes to end alone in second place.
"I made a stupid bogey on 16. I was 80 yards away for my third shot, it was an awkward stance on a mound and just hit it too hard, came out flying and over the green. So, I wasn't a happy camper walking off that green, making six there," said Langer. "Very pleased with the way I finished."
Henninger bounced back from bogeys at the fourth and sixth with three birdies in a 4-hole span from the ninth. That burst gave him a share of the lead at minus-3. At the par-5 16th, Henninger lost a ball in the tall grass left of the fairway and that led to a triple-bogey, which dropped him to minus-1. He parred the final two holes to end there.
NOTES: Montgomerie is looking to become the first player since Hale Irwin, who won this event three straight years from 1996-98, to successfully defend his title ... Montgomerie leads going into the final round for the third time on the Champions Tour.