EDMOND, Okla. — Several years ago, a rare skin disorder left Gene Sauers unsure if he would survive. Now he has a chance to win the U.S. Senior Open.
Sauers crept up on the field and shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead after three rounds at Oak Tree National. He moved to 7 under, passing front-runners Bernhard Langer, Scott Dunlap and Colin Montgomerie along the way.
The journey to this opportunity is what makes Sunday’s final round extra special for the 51-year-old Sauers. He said a reaction to a wrongly prescribed medication caused Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a disorder that burned the skin on his arms and legs from the inside out.
While he was in the hospital for seven weeks recovering, he pictured his golf swing. He got out of the hospital in June 2011 and eventually returned to the course.
“The good Lord said I’m going to give you another chance,” Sauers said. “Bogey doesn’t matter that much anymore. That’s when I learned to have a great time and tried to hit everything I was capable of doing, and it worked out today.”
Langer, Dunlap and Montgomerie are tied for second at 4 under.
It looked as if Montgomerie might run away from the field early on in the third round. He opened with birdies on 1 and 3 to jump out to a four-shot lead over Langer, who by then had moved from third to second.
Langer remained steady and Montgomerie bogeyed Nos. 5 and 7. Heading into the back nine, Mongomerie’s lead was just one shot.
Then Sauers got going. He had a 33 on the back nine, including birdies on Nos. 12, 16 and 18, to take control heading into the final round. It was an impressive run for someone who hasn’t placed higher than 15th in a Champions Tour event this season.
“I’ve got some help back home,” Sauers said. “Some friends and some teachers have been helping me a little bit. They’ve got me hitting the ball solid now. Building my confidence is mainly what they do. They know I still have it. You know, it’s just — go out there and do it. Try not to put too much pressure on myself and try to have fun.”
Montgomerie shot a 3-over 74 after leading at the end of the first two days. He was 3 over on the back nine, but is confident he can regain some of his earlier touch.
John Deere Classic
Harman grabs lead in John Deere Classic: In Silvis, Ill., Brian Harman had two eagles in a 6-under 65 on Saturday that gave him a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the John Deere Classic.
Harman’s solid performance got him to 17-under 196 for the tournament at TPC Deere Run. Three-time winner Steve Stricker is alone in second, one stroke better than Scott Brown heading into the final round.
Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, William McGirt and 2012 champion Zach Johnson are three back at 14-under 199. Clark shot a 64 to move into contention.
Harman bogeyed Nos. 12 and 18, the latter by missing the green with his approach. His eagles came from 30 feet on the par-5 second and from 47 feet on the par-5 17th.
Stricker finished strong for a 7-under 64.
Rose tied for lead after 3 rounds: In Aberdeen, Scotland, Justin Rose set up a chance to capture back-to-back titles by shooting a 5-under 66 at the Scottish Open on Saturday to move into a share of the lead with Marc Warren after three rounds.
Rose and Warren (67) are on 10-under-par overall at the warm-up tournament for the British Open, one shot clear of Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden (68).
Rory McIlroy (68) and Phil Mickelson (70) were unable to mount considerable challenges to the leaders and are seven and eight shots off the lead, respectively.
Women’s British Open
Inbee Park has 1-shot lead at Royal Birkdale: In Southport, England, Inbee Park shot a 4-under 68 and took the lead Saturday in the Women’s British Open after a late penalty against Ahn Sun-Ju.
Park was at 4-under 212 at Royal Birkdale, one shot clear of Ahn, Shanshan Feng of China and Suzann Pettersen going into the final round. The South Korean will be trying to become only the seventh player to win four of the LPGA Tour’s majors.
Ahn is still in the hunt, just not in the lead.
After what she thought was a 69, Ahn was penalized for building a stance in a pot bunker left of the 18th green. She was assessed a two-shot penalty.
, turning her par into a double bogey and her score into a 71.
It also made the final round wide open.