Four birdies in row lift Jeff Sluman

Jeff Sluman might not have expected to be in this position, but he is.

"If I'm in the top 10 today, I'll be happy," Sluman said. "There's going to be good scores coming in."

After shooting a 1-under 69 in the first round and a 67 in the second, Sluman sat tied for 29th going into weekend play.

But it all changed Saturday.

Boosted by a string of four consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 12-15, Sluman finds himself in sixth place after a 64 entering the final round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

An eight-year veteran on the Champions Tour, Sluman's three-stroke difference from his previous round was largely because of his accuracy on the greens.

"I've been driving it good," he said. "So, if you drive it good out here, you get a perfect lie in the fairway. The greens are very receptive.

"I think probably, statistically, if you look at this week versus a normal week on tour, you're going to see a lot more greens hit because of [receptive greens]."

Going into today, Sluman is tied for first in greens hit after converting 49 of 54 -- good for 90.7 percent -- through the first three rounds.

While his iron play may have been his strong suit so far, the other aspects of his game haven't been far behind.

Sluman is also hitting on 78.6 percent of his fairways and only has found the sand once.

Two birdies on the first two holes and another on No. 7 was a nice start, but it was the four consecutive birdies on the par 4s that helped rocket him to the top.

He said he felt as if he played a similar round to his first two, but that his wedges are what helped him get as close as within 4 feet on 14 and 2 feet on 13 with his approach shots.

"I mean, you're trying, obviously, to knock it close out there," Sluman said. "Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. It's a mystery on both sides of the coin."

Even with the improvements, it won't be easy to follow tying for first June 8 at the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf.

Bernhard Langer is the leader going into the final round at 15 under par. Kenny Perry sits in second, three back.

"It's going to take an enormously low round [to win] starting at 10 under," Sluman said. "All you have to do is look at the leader board, who's ahead of you, and those guys aren't going to be backing up.

"It's going to be a shootout [Sunday]."

RJ Schaffer: Twitter @rjschaffer.

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