Tom Watson is feeling good and likes his golf game these days.
The 60-year-old Watson celebrated his one-year anniversary from successful left hip surgery by shooting a 6-under 64 and building a four-stroke lead Saturday at the Senior Players Championship in Timonium, Md.
Watson, bidding to become the oldest major winner on the Champions Tour, attacked the Baltimore Country Club course and put together a bogey-free round — he's made only one during the tournament — with six birdies to finish at 12-under 198 and four shots clear of Loren Roberts (65), John Cook (65) and Mark Wiebe (66).
Watson nearly won the British Open back in July, but a balky putter on the 72nd hole cost him the Claret jug. Now, Watson said he's more confident on the greens and, three months removed from his dramatic performance at Turnberry, happy about his play.
Never miss a local story.
He's also healthier. Last season, Watson walked with a limp and had trouble sleeping because of pain in his hip. After the surgery, Watson said he immediately saw results.
"I heard a lot of good things about hip replacement, people getting great results and having more flexibility, more range of motion," he said. "I can get up on a horse, over a fence, all kinds of things now. It is something, to think you've got this metal, ceramic piece of merchandise in there. It works so well, I hope it lasts a long time."
Watson started the round with a two-shot lead over Wiebe and Jay Haas (7-under 203) and birdied three holes on the front nine to get to 9 under. Three more birdies and a key par save on the par-3 11th hole put Watson into the lead. It also drew praise from his competitors.
"Tom's played three great rounds," said Cook, who carded six birdies and one bogey to stay close. "We've got our work cut out for us, no doubt."
Ochoa takes LPGA lead — Defending champion Lorena Ochoa shot a 6-under 66 to take a three-stroke lead in the Navistar LPGA Classic, leaving 14-year-old Alexis Thompson eight strokes behind in Prattville, Ala.
Ochoa, second last week behind Sophie Gustafson in California, had a 16-under 200 total on The Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Capitol Hill complex. She birdied six of her final 12 holes in the bogey-free round.
The top-ranked Mexican star is winless in her last 11 starts. She has two victories in 17 events this season after winning 21 times the previous three years.
Thompson, the Florida ninth-grader who was part of a five-way tie for the second-round lead, had a 74 to drop into a tie for 13th at 8 under.
Kuchar, Piercy share Turning Stone lead — Scott Piercy shot a 6-under 66 for a share of the PGA Tour stop's lead with Matt Kuchar after the third round in Verona, N.Y.
Kuchar had a 67 to match Piercy at 14-under 202 on the Atunyote Golf Club course.
With the sun shining after two days of heavy rain, Kuchar strung together four birdies over a seven-hole stretch. Piercy had even better run, making four birdies in a five-hole span in the first Fall Series event of the year.
Mathias Gronberg tied the course record with a 64. He was 10 under.