Strange on Cusp of First Champions Victory


2005 3M ChampionshipBLAINE, Minn. -- Curtis Strange posted a 6-under 66 on Saturday to grab the second-round lead of the 3M Championship. He stands at 10-under- par 134 and is three ahead in his quest for a first Champions Tour title.
Strange is winless since joining the elder circuit at the beginning of last year. In fact, he has not won an official event since his second U.S. Open victory in a row in 1989.
'It's the same old same old - you go play golf,' said Strange. 'I'm afforded the opportunity to make a mistake or two because I have the lead. I don't want to do that.'
Champions Tour rookie David Edwards shot a 4-under 68 and is alone in second place at 7-under-par 137. He is also in search of his maiden win on the 50-and-over tour.
Morris Hatalsky fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday and is tied for third place with Craig Stadler, who carded a 5-under 67 in round two. The pair is knotted at minus-6.
Strange wasted little time in breaking into red figures as he birdied the first. He recorded another birdie at four, but dropped a shot at the par-3 eighth.
The two-time U.S. Open winner holed a tricky 5-footer for par on the 10th. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then hit a spectacular approach at the 14th when his 9-iron stopped 2 feet from the stick. He kicked that birdie putt in to tie for the lead at minus-7.
He narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie try at No. 15, then caught fire.
Strange found the fairway at the 16th and hit his approach to 5 feet. He converted that birdie putt to grab the lead, then padded his advantage with 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th.
At the par-5 closing hole, Strange found the fairway off the tee, then reached the green in two. He hit a poor putt from 60 feet that left him with 7 feet for birdie. He drained that putt and now has a three-shot lead with one round to go, an unfamiliar spot as Strange has never owned the lead with one round to play.
'I'm playing well and making a few putts,' acknowledged Strange. 'There's no tricks to it. I'm going to try to play as aggressively as I can play.'
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Rick Rhoden fired a 5-under 67 on Saturday. He is tied for fifth place with D.A. Weibring (69), Bruce Fleisher (69), Hale Irwin (70), two-time winner this season Brad Bryant (70) and leading money winner and last week's Senior British Open champion Loren Roberts (71). That group is knotted at 5-under-par 139.
Overnight leader Andy Bean struggled in the second round. He only managed a one-over 73 and is now in a group tied for 11th place at 4-under-par 140.
Defending champion Tom Purtzer, who was one shot off the lead at the start of round, played poorly on Saturday. He carded a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 24th at minus-2.
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