BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Defending champion Steve Stricker made a protracted eagle putt on the ultimate gap for 7-under 65 and the third-round lead Saturday within the Areas Custom, the primary of 5 PGA Tour Champions majors.
Stricker moved a stroke forward of Alex Cejka with the eagle that received him to 14-under 202 at Greystone Golf & Nation Membership. Cejka, who made the sector as the primary alternate Monday, bogeyed the seventeenth in a 66.
Stricker, who gained the Alabama main the final time it was held in 2019, raised his fist towards the followers simply an immediate earlier than the eagle putt dropped in on the closing par 5. Cejka two-putted for par.
“I hit drive,” Stricker mentioned. “And I had a quantity that I actually needed to hit onerous utility membership. I needed to actually flip it over. And it simply labored out actually properly. Had a pleasant have a look at it. Made putt.”
It was shades of Friday when Stricker moved right into a four-way share of the lead with a birdie on No. 18. He ran his bogey-free streak to twenty-eight holes.
“Profitable right here a pair years has given me confidence that I can play nicely round right here,” Stricker mentioned. “We had an amazing day to play. And there is plenty of good gamers up across the prime.
“I’ll should exit, handle enterprise tomorrow, and put up one other good spherical like I did at the moment. And Alex performed nice. It was enjoyable to observe him.”
Cejka is in rivalry once more after tying for second within the Chubb Traditional as a Monday qualifier.
“Steve made plenty of putts, particularly down the stretch,” he mentioned. “The eagle was unbelievable. I imply, two nice pictures to the inexperienced and holed the putt.
“I three-putted the seventeenth gap and did not stand up and down on 18. A bit bit disappointing, however total I performed nice. I had plenty of probabilities. I wish to play like this (Sunday), simply give me plenty of probabilities, make a couple of putts and I am tremendous glad to be in that place going into the final day.”
The Czechoslovakia-born Cejka, who grew up in Germany after escaping his dwelling nation together with his father, made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch in his third begin on the 50-and-over tour.
“He took slightly boy by his hand and escaped Communism,” Cejka mentioned. “It might have gone the opposite approach. We ended up in Germany. He tried to present me a brand new, good, higher life.”
Robert Karlsson and Dicky Pleasure, a resident of close by Tuscaloosa taking part in courtesy of a sponsor exemption, have been three pictures again. Karlsson shot a 64 and Pleasure a 67, with seven birdies and two bogeys.
Pleasure is making an attempt to not dwell on what a win would imply for him.
“Actually, that is stuff I am unable to do something about,” he mentioned. “I am unable to handle that. I’ve to handle what I am doing. And that different stuff, that simply will get you desirous about issues you’ll be able to’t management.”
Cejka and Stricker shared the second-round lead with Jerry Kelly and Darren Clarke. Kelly shot a 70 and Clarke a 71.
Cejka took the solo lead with lengthy birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, hitting it off the flag on the twelfth gap the place he had made his first bogey of the event on Saturday. He teed off out of order on 17, driving first and wound up with the bogey No. 2.
Karlsson birdied 4 of the 5 par 5s and got here shut to creating it 5 for five on the lengthy holes. The 6-foot-5 Swede two-putted for par on No. 18 from about 4 toes.
“I hit one within the water on 11 and I managed to make a par from there, so it was nice to maintain the momentum going,” Karlsson mentioned.
Two-time winner Bernhard Langer was six strokes again after highlighting a 69 spherical with an eagle on the par-5 fifteenth.