CONOVER, N.C. – Trying to relax more on the golf course, Bernhard Langer was a little tense after bogeying the first two holes Saturday in the second round of the Champions Tour's Greater Hickory Classic.
The German star overcame the shaky start and soggy course conditions to take a two-stroke lead.
''I got off to a really rough start,'' Langer said. ''But I settled down and got a nice run of birdies there, and played pretty decent golf for the most part.''
Second behind Kenny Perry in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, birdied six of the final 16 holes on the reconfigured Rock Barn layout for a 4-under 66 and a 10-under 130 total.
Langer has 18 victories on the 50-and-over tour, two early this season.
''I've had lots of opportunities since July, but haven't quite closed the deal,'' said Langer, who has finished in the top 10 in his last seven tournaments – including a playoff loss to Mark Wiebe in the Senior British Open. ''I think I'm just taking it too serious, too intense. So I'm trying to enjoy the moment.
''I'm only going to have a few years left playing professional golf. I'm out there with some great guys on some beautiful golf courses, so let's have some fun. That's my goal this week.''
Michael Allen, Brad Bryant and John Riegger were tied for second. Allen shot 65, Bryant had a 66, and Riegger a 67. Bruce Vaughan, who won the qualifying tournament to make the field, shot a 62 to join Olin Browne at 7 under. Browne had a 68. Perry was tied for 17th at 3 under after a 69.
Langer recovered with a run of three consecutive birdies on Nos. 4-6, and added three more birdies – on Nos. 13, 14 and 17 – to move to the top of the leaderboard. He had a chance to extend his lead on the final three holes, but missed two birdie putts – a 12-footer on No. 16 and an 8-footer on No. 18.
''It was a matter of reading the putts correctly,'' Langer said. ''I hit the putts where I wanted to, they just didn't go in. It's disappointing when you do that. But I'm pleased with the way I came back, especially after that start.''