Tom Lehman leads Champions’ Principal Charity Classic
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Tom Lehman might finally get an elusive senior victory in Iowa after so many close calls.
Lehman shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions’ Principal Charity Classic.
Lehman eagled the par-5 eighth and played a 10-hole stretch in 7 under before dropping a stroke on the par-4 18th. He had a 13-under 131 total, the best two-round score at Wakonda Club.
From neighboring Minnesota, Lehman has finished in the top 10 in each of his first six appearances in Iowa, but the 1996 British Open champion has never won the event.
“I made my share of putts. Made some longer putts I wasn’t expecting, kept the ball in the fairway (and) did a lot of things right,” Lehman said.
First-round leader Bernhard Langer had a 69 to fall into a tie for second with Glen Day (68), Woody Austin (68) and Scott Parel (66).
The conditions were warm but uncharacteristically calm, which dried out the course and made low scores attainable. In fact, the scoring average of 70.19 set a course record.
Few took advantage more than Lehman.
Lehman, who has never finished lower than eighth at Wakonda Club, picked up birdies on three consecutive holes — a par 4, par 5 and par 3, respectively — on the back nine to jump out in front.
But Lehman may wind up regretting his final hole, the only green he failed to reach in regulation.
Poised to match the course record of 63 set by Billy Andrade two years ago, Lehman instead put his approach over the green before missing a makeable par putt.
“I got over aggressive...just a big mess. Aside from that, it was 35 holes of really good golf from me,” Lehman said.
Langer, a 37-time senior circuit champion who had struggled in Iowa before finishing fourth a year ago, saw his luck run dry once again at Wakonda Club.
Langer birdied his first two holes and looked set to jump out to a big lead, but the German shot just two-under for the rest of his round.
Asked if he felt fortunate to be down just two strokes despite struggling with his putter, Langer said “No. I don’t feel fortunate. I would rather be two ahead and I could be two ahead. But it’s what it is, and we’ll take it and hopefully have a good round (Sunday).
Corey Pavin and Jerry Kelley will enter Sunday three strokes back of Lehman at 10 under, and unheralded Clark Dennis is just four shots back after posting a 66.
“I can’t force the issue, and you never know what everybody is going to do,” Pavin said.