THE WOODLANDS, Texas – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to maintain a one-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s Administaff Small Business Classic.
Pavin had a 10-under 134 total on The Woodlands Country Club course.
Mark Wiebe (68) was second, and Fred Couples (65) was 8 under. Couples had eight birdies and one bogey in his tournament-best round.
Pavin had a three-stroke lead over Wiebe with two holes left, but Wiebe cut it to one on No. 17 when he made a birdie and Pavin missed a short putt for his only bogey of the day.
On the final hole, Wiebe left a 30-foot birdie putt just short. Pavin then avoided his second straight bogey by holing a 12-footer for par.
“I liked the way I played,” Pavin said. “I actually hit the ball better today. It was nice to make the putt at the last hole. It’s better to have a one-shot lead than none.”
Tom Lehman (68) was 5 under, and Byrum (67), Larry Mize (69) and Jay Don Blake (70) followed at 4 under.
Couples, trying to overtake Bernhard Langer in the Charles Schwab Cup points race, made three straight long birdie putts – a 12-footer on No. 9, a 10-footer on No. 10 and a 15-footer on No. 11 – and made another from 25 feet on No. 15, but bogeyed the par-3 16th and closed with two pars.
“I hit the ball crisper today and closer to the hole,” Couples said. “Your first few years on the Champions Tour are important to me. I’m enjoying it out here.”
Langer was on his way to a big comeback after an opening 79.
The German star was 6 under for the round through 16 holes, then dropped two strokes on the par-4 17th. He recovered with a par on No. 18 for a 68 and a 3-under total.
Kenny Perry, playing in his first Champions Tour event, had a similar fate, trying to recover from an opening 78. He was 5 under in the second round through 17 holes and stumbled with a double bogey on the final hole for a 69, leaving him at 3 over.
“I didn’t have a lot of fun yesterday,” Perry said. “Yesterday I was tight and I never got loose. I had a lot of nerves. I played with Curtis Strange and Tom Purtzer, two guys that I looked up to growing up. I played free and relaxed.”
Steve Lowery, also making his Champions Tour debut, was 2 under after a 67.