KETTERING, Ohio (AP) – Craig Stadler made a spectacular bunker shot on the final hole and went on to make a birdie, moving into a tie for the lead with Loren Roberts on Saturday after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open.

Stadler had pulled his drive into the bunker left of the fairway on the dogleg par-4, but was able to muscle 7-iron a shot out of the sand from 153 yards that ended up just 4 feet from the pin. He made the birdie putt to cap a 2-under 69.

Roberts also shot a 69 to share the top spot at 11-under 202, highlighting his round by spinning in a wedge at the 10th hole for an eagle.

The co-leaders were three shots clear of the field, with Raymond Floyd – winner of the last major event at NCR Country Club, the 1969 PGA Championship – at 205 along with D.A. Weibring. The 62-year-old Floyd turned back the clock with a 69 that included four birdies and two bogeys. Weibring had a 68.

There were numerous sterling shots and as many pratfalls for most of the contenders. None was more dramatic than the disaster Tom Watson had at the sixth green.

Alone in the lead, Watson hit his second shot on the par-5, 549-yard hole through the green and into a back trap. He blasted out to 12 feet and seemed to have a good shot at birdie. But he rolled his birdie putt 2 feet past, then missed the comebacker badly, rolling it some 6 feet past the hole and near where his original putt had been. He also missed the bogey putt, tapping in for a double-bogey 6 that dropped him two shots back of playing partner Roberts, who made a birdie putt on the same green.

After starting the day tied for the lead with Stadler and Roberts, Watson sagged to a 73 that left him four shots back at 202 along with Des Smyth, whom Watson beat in a playoff last weekend to win the Senior British Open.

Roberts, playing in just his second event for the 50-and-over crowd, bogeyed the first hole but made the turn in even-par as he came to the signature hole at NCR Country Club, the par-5, 546-yard 10th. Roberts’ drive was in the deep rough right of the fairway on the dogleg right hole, which has a green tilted severely from back to front and surrounded by deep bunkers.

Roberts pitched out into the fairway and was left with a 70-yard wedge to the green. His approach nearly hit the pin, came to rest a foot past it and then spun into the cup.

Roberts raised his arms in celebration and then pumped his right fist while a large crowd roared.

He built his lead to as many as three shots before he bogeyed the 17th hole and Stadler made a late run with birdies on three of the last four holes to pull even.

Greg Norman, also playing in his second Champions Tour event, got rolling early with three birdies and an eagle in a five-hole span. After climbing the leaderboard, however, he had difficulty the rest of the way, playing the last 11 holes in 2 over for a 69 that left him at 207.

AP-ES-07-30-05 1849EDT


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