Don Pooley, the former U.S. Senior Open champion, established a new course record Saturday with a 9-under-par 63. He is tied for second place with Wayne Levi (68), Hugh Baiocchi (67) and Ben Crenshaw (67) at 8-under-par 136.
Purtzer flew out of the gate Saturday with a 10-foot birdie putt at the first. He parred the second but tallied back-to-back birdies at three and four, including a 30-footer at the par-3 fourth.
He birdied the seventh to make the turn at 4 under par and he opened the back nine with a 10-foot birdie at No. 10. Purtzer knocked a 6-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie at the 14th but trouble with the flat stick loomed.
Purtzer landed 40 feet from the hole at the 16th but left himself with six feet for par. He missed that putt but holed a bogey try from three feet.
'I never felt like my putting was a glaring weakness but it was,' said Purtzer, who won five times in his PGA Tour career. 'It wears on you when you don't putt good. A lot of it is confidence because you have to make them to feel good about it.'
Purtzer broke away from the pack at minus-8 on the par-5 closing hole. He sank a six-footer for birdie to reach 9 under par and take the lead through 36 holes.
'Things kind of went my way today,' said Purtzer, who will have hip surgery in October. 'I felt good on the range - nice and loose. The back felt good so the swing was good.'
If Purtzer can hang on and win on Sunday, he will join Bruce Lietzke as the only multiple winners on the Champions Tour in 2003. Purtzer holed a 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole Sunday to edge out Gil Morgan and win the SBC Classic.
Pooley drained a seven-foot birdie putt at the third and added another at four, this time from 12 feet. He recorded three birdies in a row from the sixth to make the turn at 5-under-par 31.
On the back nine, Pooley collected two tap-in birdies at 11 and 12, then saved a great par when he drained an eight-footer at 14. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt at 15 and closed his round with a 13-foot birdie putt at 17 to match his lowest round on the Champions Tour, which he carded en route to victory last year at the U.S. Senior Open.
'That's the best I played all year,' said Pooley. 'Everything went well today. I'm back in contention in this tournament. Momentum is a great thing and I haven't had a lot of it this year.'
Crenshaw is another player who has not gained momentum, but Crenshaw has not had any since joining the elder circuit. His best finish on the Champions Tour has been a tie for eighth -- but he got going on Saturday.
He had only one birdie on the front nine but caught fire with four birdies in a row from the 10th. At the 14th, Crenshaw's second went into water, he took a drop then three-putted for a triple bogey.
'I chose one hole to hit four bad shots,' said Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion.
Crenshaw drained a pair of six-foot birdie putts at 16 and 17 to get within striking distance of his first win on the Champions Tour.
Morgan (68), James Mason (68), Mike Smith (70) and overnight co-leaders Jim Thorpe (71) and Morris Hatalsky (71) share sixth place at 6-under-par 138.
Hale Irwin, the 2002 champion, struggled to a 3-over-par 75 and fell into tie for 35th at 1-under-par 143.