Irwin Haas Chasing Bryant in Texas


2005 Administaff Small Business ClassicSPRING, Texas -- Brad Bryant had what he called his best ball-striking round of the year. It wasn't the day's lowest round, but it was good enough to put the Champions Tour rookie in position for his first title of any kind in 10 years.
Bryant shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over six players at the Administaff Small Business Classic. He is through two rounds at 12-under-par 132.
Gil Morgan (67), Dave Barr (67), Hale Irwin (68), Mark McNulty (68), Morris Hatalsky (69) and Jay Haas (69) have all played 36 holes at 10-under-par 134 to share second place.
Bryant was just a little bit better than that group on Saturday. He played his first nine holes at 4-under-par after rolling in birdie putts of 22 feet, 13 feet and two from 6 feet on the front nine.
That put the 50-year-old at minus-10, and he would get as low as minus-13 after three birdies in his first four holes in the back nine.
On holes 10 and 12, Bryant knocked wedges within 5 feet and 10 feet, respectively. He reached the green in two with a three-iron at the par-5 13th and then two-putted for his seventh birdie of the day.
Afterwards, he credited his approach game for the low round.
'I hit some nice drives, and my iron play has always been the strength of my game,' said Bryant, whose only bogey came at the par-3 15th. 'I just hit a lot of really good iron shots...and it was kind of fun.
'I'm not a great putter, so for me to score like this I have to hit [my irons] like that. It was my best ball striking round this year.'
Bryant's best finish this year on the Champions tour was a tie for third place at the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic two months ago. If he can hang on for the win Sunday, it would be his first victory since winning the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic in 1995 -- his only title on the PGA Tour.
In fact, Bryant leads heading into the final round of a tournament for the first time in 26 years. And the last time was also his only time -- a 1979 PGA Tour stop.
'The plan is to pray for a rainout,' the inexperienced frontrunner joked when asked what he expects from his final round. 'Plan B is to do exactly what I did today.'
Mike Sullivan is alone in eighth place at 9-under-par 135 after a second- round 68, while John Bland is one stroke further back after also shooting a 68 on Saturday.
All in all, there are 12 players within five strokes of Bryant heading into the final round.
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