Bean rolled to a 6-under 66 at Sonoma Golf Club despite regular lashings from a storm thats expected to blast Northern Californias wine country on Saturday. At the halfway point of the Champions Tours season-ending event, he nearly made six consecutive birdies to start the back nine, barely missing a putt on the 12th.
I never mind playing in the weather, as long as it doesnt get too cold, said Bean, an 11-time PGA Tour winner whos 13th on the Champions Tours money list. The wet is never too much of a problem for me. The course is holding up real well. Its going to yield some birdies, and hopefully Im going to get my share.
Price, the first-round co-leader, shot a bogey-free 69 for a 9-under 135. Tom Jenkins, Scott Hoch and Gene Jones are just two strokes behind Bean at 136, and half of the 29-man field is within five shots of the leader.
While Bean attacked the course despite the downpour, Price said he settled for a scruffy day in the rain. He saved par three times with clutch putts that probably wouldnt have fallen for him earlier this year, when he was struggling with the simplest shots.
Price feels his game is back on track after a recent 2 1/2 -year period when the three-time major winner on the PGA Tour was struggling to keep up with the younger players. Prices confidence has been gradually rising ever since he turned 50 in January 2007, and he feels primed for his first Champions Tour victory after two second-place finishes this season.
Theres still gremlins there, (but) theyre getting fewer and fewer, Price said. I try to discard them, but they creep in there. I feel if I can get a win under my belt, Im going to get going again. The competitive nature in me wants to win tournaments.
Price and Bean might win the tournament, but they wont win the Schwab Cup, which also is awarded Sunday to the winner of the tours season-long points competition. Jay Haas, who entered the week leading Fred Funk by 12 points for the Cup and its $1 million annuity, is tied for ninth at 6-under 138, while Funk had another tough round that left him in 28th place at 145.
Bernhard Langer, the other main competitor for the Schwab Cup, is in 22nd place at 1 under.
Jenkins, who had the lead Friday before Beans back-nine charge, finished one shot off the tournaments single-round record with his 64. Jenkins hasnt won on the Champions Tour since 2006, but the 60-year-old is in contention after finishing the round with a 30-footer for birdie on the 18th.
Its a pain to have to play in that kind of stuff, Jenkins said. Its not my favorite conditions. Im from Texas. Its cold. At my age, the more stuff (like rain gear) Ive got on, the shorter my backswing gets, and I dont like that.
In anticipation of the worst part of the storm on Saturday afternoon, the tournament moved up its third-round tee times nearly two hours'not a huge inconvenience in an event with just 29 players. In fact, Bean was thrilled about the change, which will get him in front of the television more quickly for his beloved Florida Gators game against Georgia.
Its probably going to be sloppy (Saturday), but youve got to play in whats there, Bean said. We dont play in a dome.