Langer Haas chasing Bryant in Hawaii

By Associated PressJanuary 24, 2009, 5:00 pm
Champions TourKAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii ' Brad Bryant shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead over Bernhard Langer after two rounds in the Champions Tours season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
 
Bryant, who birdied nine holes in the opening round, set the pace early by birdieing six of his first 10 holes and capped his round with a 10-foot birdie putt on 18 for a 15-under 129 total.
 
The big-hitting Texan is seeking his first victory since the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, where he made up five strokes in the final round and overtook Tom Watson in the second-largest comeback in Open history. Bryant will be the hunted on Sunday.
 
Langer, the player and rookie of the year, made his move on the back nine, again, birdieing four of the final six holes for a 66. He shaved the hole on several putts before they eventually started falling, just as he did Friday in a back-nine 29.
 
Jay Haas, the 2007 player of the year, was third at 13 under after a 66.
 
Hale Irwin, at 63 trying to become the oldest winner in the tours 30-year history, had a 67 to join Jeff Sluman at 12 under, a stroke ahead of Andy Bean (66).
 
Bryant was in control most of the day and in a good spot heading into the final round. In the previous 25 tournaments, the player who as led or tied for the lead after Saturday has won 16 times.
 
The 54-year-old Bryant is coming off his first winless season in three season, but broke the $1 million mark for the third straight season with seven top-10 finishes including a third-place finish in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
 
Haas dropped a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th to momentarily tie Bryant atop the leaderboard at 13 under. Bryant, playing two groups behind Haas, regained the outright lead at 14 under by tapping in for birdie on the 566-yard 10th after missing a 25-foot eagle putt.
 
Bryant then made a 4-footer after blasting out of the left bunker on the par-5 14th to reach 15 under and take a two-stroke lead over Haas and Langer. Bryant gave a stroke back on the next hole when his second shot from 173 yards went into the rough.
 
Bryant had a chance to add to his lead but missed a short putt on 17, his only mistake on the greens.
 
It was a second day of tranquil conditions, which allowed the birdies to flow as freely as the lava from Kilauea. With virtually no wind, volcanic fog from the volcano blanketed the Kona coastline and created overcast conditions.
 
Hualalai is the easiest course on tour with wide-open fairways, few trees and perfect greens. The only hazards are ink-black lava fields surrounding some of the holes and the distracting views of the Pacific.
 
The players realize that they cant let up Sunday.
 
The 73-year-old Gary Player, who had an eagle in the first round, bettered his age for a second straight day with a 71 after opening with a 70. It was the fifth time in this event and 23rd time in his career that he shot his age or better.
 

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