Couples, Langer set for Mitsubishi showdown

Kaupulehu-Kona, HI ( - Fred Couples shot 7-under-par 65 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead alongside Bernhard Langer entering the final round of the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Langer fired a 64, joining Couples at 14-under-par 130 through 36 holes at Hualalai Golf Club.

"There's a rumor (Langer) hurt his thumb on Thursday and two days later he's playing like he always does," Couples told the Golf Channel. "These guys are all gonna go out and shoot lights out and I'm gonna be one of them. I'm highly looking forward to it."

Mark O'Meara carded a 65 and moved into solo third at 13-under, while Steve Elkington (67), David Frost (64) and Jeff Sluman (66) grabbed a share of fourth at minus-12.

First-round leader Rocco Mediate, who is dealing with an ailing left hip, stumbled to a 70 and dropped into a tie for seventh with Tom Lehman (66) at 11-under.

"I'm real solid. I'm right on the middle of the face a lot of times, especially yesterday," said Mediate. "I hit a couple of hooks, but that's gonna happen, especially with this feeling. I wish I didn't feel like this but I'll be fine. It's not a big deal."

Couples won the final event of the 2013 Champions Tour season, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, where Langer tied for second.

Langer, an 18-time winner on the circuit, was the first to reach 14-under on Saturday, as the German tallied eight birdies during his bogey-free round to emerge from a crowded pack and hit the clubhouse with the lead.

"No pain today whatsoever and that's very encouraging," Langer said of his thumb. "This is a course, if the conditions are the way they are .. you have to be aggressive, you gotta make birdie. If you don't, you're gonna get lapped. So I have to go out there and play similar to the last two days."

Couples also went bogey-free during the second round, carding four birdies during his outward nine to turn in 32. The nine-time Champions Tour winner added back-to-back birdies from the 10th, then rolled home at 12-footer for birdie at No. 17 to reach minus-14. He parred the last, securing a share of the lead entering the final round.

"Being in the last group the first tournament of the year is a nice experience," Couples stated.

NOTES: Couples is a 15-time winner on the PGA Tour ... Langer won twice on the Champions Tour in 2013 ... Mediate won twice in 2013 as a Champions Tour rookie ... Defending champ John Cook is tied for 24th place at 4-under 140 ... This is the first of 25 official events in the season-long competition for the Charles Schwab Cup ... The field is comprised of players who have won a Champions Tour major championship within the last five seasons or a Champions Tour co-sponsored and approved tournament in the last two years, plus sponsor exemptions.