Watson#039;s record round gets lead

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

The Associated Press

ABERDEEN, Scotland - Tom Watson matched the course record at Royal Aberdeen set only hours earlier Saturday, a 7-under 64 in mostly calm conditions that gave him a one-shot lead over Craig Stadler going into the final round of the Senior British Open.

Watson was at 3-under 210 and poised to win a British Open title on his fifth links course in Scotland. He won the British Open at Carnoustie, Muirfield and Royal Troon, and the British Open and Senior British Open at Turnberry.

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Watson was 4 over to start the third round, but picked up birdies on the third and fifth holes, then made an eagle on the par-5 sixth - his first eagle of the year - and was on his way to the 54-hole lead.

Craig Stadler didn't get as much out of his round, making a birdie on the par-3 17th for a 1-under 70 that put him at 211 and in the final group with Watson.

Greg Norman also had a 70 and was at even-par 213 with Des Smyth, who had a 68.

Derrick Cooper, a 50-year-old tournament director on the European senior tour, also shot a 64 earlier in the day that enabled him to get into contention. Despite an 80 in the second round, Cooper was at 4-over 217 and tied with Loren Roberts, who shot 71. Both were seven shots out of the lead.

Watson looked like an eight-time major champion, especially with his putter.

''Today was the first time in a long time I made some putts,'' Watson said. ''I hit the ball well, the best I've driven it in two day. I may play a little bit differently tomorrow, as far as where I try to place the ball off the tee.''

Watson has not won on the Champions Tour since collecting his third senior major at the 2003 Tradition.