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Langer chasing absent Lehman in Schwab Cup race

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CARY, N.C. – With Charles Schwab Cup leader Tom Lehman out of the field at this weekend's SAS Championship, Bernhard Langer says he needs to play aggressively – and not just because Lehman is out.

Langer is 246 points behind Lehman in the season-long race for the cup and its $1 million payout.

''I need to be aggressive every week I play,'' said the 55-year-old Langer, who's second in the standings. ''Whether (Lehman) plays or not has no bearing on my game. Obviously, with him not here, it gives me a chance to catch up.

''But if I finish 11th, then I get nothing. I've played steady all year though, and I'm fairly happy with the way I've played.''

Langer has a win and 13 top-10 finishes but remains behind the 53-year-old Lehman, who's expected back in tournament next week across the state in Hickory. Lehman has 10 top-10 finishes this year, including a win at a Champions Tour major - the Regions Tradition in Shoal Creek, Ala.

''Tom's built a pretty good lead,'' Kenny Perry said. ''And he knows that, and that's probably why he's not here. But he's probably in pretty good shape.''

Perry, the reigning SAS champion, is back after taking four weeks off – something he's never done during his 30-year career. His son was recently married and his daughter is expecting his second grandchild.

Perry said he hasn't put the same emphasis on the sport this year, but he's still 10th in the standings.

''There are other things in my life more important than golf,'' said Perry, who earned a one-stroke victory last year over Jeff Sluman and John Huston.

But even with a more relaxed approach this year to the game, the 52-year-old Perry still has some drive left, especially as he pushes toward the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona.

''There's nothing like winning,'' he said. ''There's nothing like the feeling of winning and coming back to that place you've won at, and I love it here.

The SAS Championship ''is very important. I told somebody I need to win two of the three (tournaments) before I get to Phoenix to even get near him to have a chance to put any pressure on him.''

Mark O'Meara, one of seven players in the field with North Carolina ties, spent most of the summer on the injured list but returned in August and has four straight top-10 finishes.

''Tom Lehman has played so well the last couple years, very consistent. It comes down to, you know, top 10s,'' said the 28th-place O'Meara. ''But Bernhard Langer is the ultimate. He's got that mentality of dedication, drive, work - and he's always right there, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him right there this week.''