REUTERS - American Michael Allen withstood four bogeys on the back nine to cling to a two-stroke lead over surging compatriots Kenny Perry and Fred Funk after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.
Allen, who seized a record five-shot lead after a brilliant seven-under-par 63 at Omaha Country Club on Friday, was 10 under par and still leading by five at the turn on another hot day at the hilly layout.
Back-to-back bogeys from the 10th were balanced by birdies at 13 and 14, but bogeys at 16 and 18 put Allen at two-over 72 for the day for a total of eight-under-par 202.
At the par-three 16th Allen did not get up and down from the greenside bunker, and a wayward drive at the last sent him on his way to a closing bogey.
“Today I had a few more bads than goods,” said Allen. “But it’s fun. It’s nice to be in the lead.”
Perry closed strong with birdies at 16 and 17 for a six-under 64 that put him on 204 along with Funk, who birdied the last two holes for 67.
“I played unbelievable today,” said Perry, who two weeks ago won the Senior Players Championship. “I hit every fairway, green. It was an easy six-under. It was just stress-free.”
Perry began the round 10 shots off the lead.
“I went from the outhouse to the penthouse,” he said about a round aided by greens softened from watering to combat the extreme heat.
Funk, winner of the 2009 championship at Crooked Stick, sank a 35-foot birdie at the last to tie for second with Perry.
Two more strokes adrift was 1995 U.S. Open winner Corey Pavin, who posted bogey-free 64 for 206, one stroke better than fellow-American Rocco Mediate, who carded a 72.
“I think there was a few more accessible pins today so I think it played probably a little easier with the pin placements,” said Pavin.
Ten players were tied on two-under-par 208 including Mark O‘Meara (70), Tom Lehman (70), Steve Pate (67) and Taiwan’s Lu Chien-soon (65).
Sounding more like a weekend golfer than an accomplished pro, Pavin said he was still grappling with the same things with his swing.
“I’ve been working on trying to get the club more inside,” noted Pavin.
“I’ve been doing that for about 40 years now and I‘m still working on it.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Gene Cherry/Greg Stutchbury