NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Bernhard Langer maintained a two-stroke lead Saturday in the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic, making four birdies in a late five-hole stretch for a 5-under 66.
Langer, the 2008 winner, had a 13-under 129 total at Newport Beach Country Club. The 56-year-old German won the season-opening event in Hawaii in January for his 19th victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Kenny Perry and Chien Soon Lu were tied for second. Perry made a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th for a 65, and Lu shot 66.
“I have to get off to a hot start and make birdies,” Perry said. “I know he’s going to be there at the end. I have to play my best when I go up against him. He doesn’t make a mistake.”
Fred Couples, Scott Dunlap, Esteban Toledo and Jeff Hart were 10 under.
Langer opened with a birdie, then made his first bogey of the tournament on his next hole. He added two more birdies on the front nine but also had another bogey.
“I had a couple of hiccups on the front nine,” Langer said. “I felt I was playing ok. I told my caddy, `Let’s try and play a good back nine’ and I did.”
On the back nine, Langer birdied Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 17. One No. 15, he hit son Jason in the gallery on his approach shot. Langer then hit a flop shot over a bunker to 10 feet and made the birdie putt.
“I was told it hit him,” Langer said. “But it was more like it bounced a few times and rolled up to him. He was OK.”
Perry also had a strange incident. On No. 9, he tried to cut the corner on the dogleg right and caught a palm tree about 37 yards from the tee box. Fortunately, the ball fell to the side of the tree. Perry hit a 4-iron layup, followed by a 9-iron to 4 feet and made the putt for par.
“That hole’s got me,” Perry said. “If I had to play a lot of holes like it, I wouldn’t play much.”
Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson made a 30-foot eagle putt on the final hole for 63, tied for the best round of the day. It was the first time on the Champions Tour the 64-year-old Watson has bettered his age on the tour. He was tied for 12th at 8 under.
“When you are 64, it doesn’t happen that much anymore,” Watson said. “I have been rolling in a lot of putts though.”