Conover, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Bernhard Langer shot 4-under-par 66 on Saturday to grab a 2-stroke lead entering the final round of the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn.
Langer, who ranks first on the Champions Tour money list and second in the Charles Schwab Cup standings with three events remaining, sits at 10-under-par 130 through 36 holes.
The tournament is being contested on a reconfigured golf course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa due to extensive damage cause by a July rain storm. Sections of the Jones Course and the Jackson Course at Rock Barn were combined to create the Champions Course, which will play to a par-70 as opposed to the original par-72 layout.
Michael Allen shot 65 to move into a tie for second place alongside Brad Bryant (66) and John Riegger (67) at 8-under 132. Bruce Vaughan fired a 62 to jump into a tie for fifth place with Olin Browne (68) at minus-7.
"I'm just gonna play my game and try to make as many birdies as I can," Riegger strategized in a televised interview following his round. In August, Riegger won the Boeing Classic, outlasting Langer and several others on the final day.
Anders Forsbrand, who shared the overnight lead with Langer and Dick Mast, carded an even-par 70 and dropped into a tie for seventh with Jim Gallagher Jr. (66) and Russ Cochran (67) at 6-under. Mast, meanwhile, stumbled to a 73 and fell into a share of 17th at minus-3.
Langer, a two-time winner this season who has posted seven straight top-10 finishes, opened with back-to-back bogeys on Saturday to drop down a crowded leaderboard.
The German recovered from there, however, playing bogey-free the rest of the way and jumping back into contention with a hat trick of birdies from the fourth.
Still, he didn't go back on top until the closing stretch, when he carded back-to-back birdies from the 13th to reach 9-under.
Langer added another birdie at the par-3 17th to reach minus-10 and nearly pushed his lead to three at the last, but he settled for a 2-stroke advantage when his short birdie putt narrowly missed the cup.
NOTES: Defending champion Fred Funk is tied for 37th place at even-par 140 ... Only five players still have a mathematical chance to claim the Charles Schwab Cup: leader Kenny Perry, Langer, Frost, Duffy Waldorf and Fred Couples ... On July 27, nine inches of torrential rain hit the Rock Barn Golf & Spa in just three hours. The back nine holes of Jackson Course are serving as the front nine of the Champions Course, while holes one through six and 16 through 18 of the Jones Course are being used as the back nine. The 12th and 14th holes (Nos. 3 and 5 of the Jones Course) were played under lift, clean and place conditions on Thursday ... With his start at this event, Bob Gilder became the 16th player to start in 1,000 combined events on the PGA Tour/Champions Tour. He is tied for 63rd at 3-over 143.