PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- It was just like old times. Wit one round left, Jack Nicklaus blew out the field and took a record eight-stroke lead after three rounds of the 52nd Senior PGA Championship.
Nicklaus led by five strokes before yesterday's play, saw his lead dwindle to one stroke over Jim Dent at the turn, then put himself in commanding position to win for the fourth time in six tries among the over-50 set.
"Often I don't play that well with a few shots lead," Nicklaus said. "Jim got to within one, and I just gave myself a kick, said, 'This is ridiculous; you've got to get going.' "
Moments after Nicklaus reached the turn, rain, wind and lightning swept over the PGA National Golf Club and play was held up for two hours. When play resumed, Nicklaus provided the electricity.
He finished with a 69 for a 201 total, 15-under par. His leading margin was one larger than the previous record of seven, set by George Archer in last year's Tournament of Champions.
"I haven't won yet," Nicklaus said. "I'll prepare for tomorrow just like I would any other round. I'll try to play just as well as I can."
Bruce Crampton was second at 209 after shooting a 70. It's a position Crampton is familiar with. In his younger days, Crampton finished second to Nicklaus in four major championships.
"Now, maybe five," he said with a wry smile. "It's a 72-hole tournament. I just have to get through 72 holes as best I can."
Dent, one off the pace when the rains came, finished the round 11 back. He shot a 42 on the back nine, a 75 for the day and had a three-round total of 212.
Dent made up five strokes on Nicklaus in a four-hole stretch over the front side. Nicklaus three-putted for bogey on the fifth, Dent dropped a 15-foot eagle putt on the sixth and needed only a 3-footer for birdie on the seventh. When Nicklaus bogeyed the eighth from a bunker, the lead was down to one.
Immediately after the rain delay, Nicklaus made a 3-foot putt for birdie-4 on the 10th. He then made a pair of 20-footers in a string of three consecutive birdies.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Ian Baker-Finch had thbirdies, but that wasn't enough to worry Davis Love III, the leader through three rounds.
Love, tied for the lead after the opening round, shot a 3-under 68 for a total of 12-under 201 at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Love, whose first of two PGA Tour victories came in the 1987 Heritage, leads Baker-Finch by 3 strokes and three others by 4 strokes.
Fred Funk of Laurel shot 68 for a 54-hole total of 206, and was one of six tied for sixth, five strokes off the lead.
But Love wasn't overly worried about who was behind him or how close they were. And that's the approach he'll take today.
Baker-Finch shot a 65 -- the top round yesterday -- after a second-round 64 that enabled him to tie the course record for the best 36-hole score. Jack Nicklaus set the record in 1975, going 66-63 the first two rounds.
"To shoot 64-65 anywhere, especially around a golf course is pretty special," Baker-Finch said. "It's a shot-making sort of course. You can't get around here with your 'B-game.' You've got to bring your 'A-game' here.
"I kept telling people not to pinch me while I was out there today in case I woke up. It was just a dream run. Everything I touched turned to gold."
MSGA team matches
Chantilly Manor Country Club in Rising Sun reversed lasyear's Baltimore area final result, defeating Nassawango CC, of Berlin on the Lower Eastern Shore, 10-8. The Cecil County club will meet Congressional, an 11-7 winner over Holly Hills, for the championship this afternoon. A year ago, Congressional defeated Nassawango, 13 1/2 -4 1/2 , for the title.