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Lead changes hands

GOLF: Hatalsky shoots low for day with a 64, but Langer cards another 65 to take a three-stroke lead into Toshiba Classic final round.

March 09, 2008|By Soraya Nadia McDonald

For video of the second round, click here.

For a photo gallery, click here.

NEWPORT BEACH — Place, roll. Place, roll. Place, roll.

It was the last hole of the day, and front-runner Bernhard Langer was seemingly taking forever.

He’d hit his tee shot into the gallery, to the far right of the green, and had taken two drops.

He tried to place the ball, but it rolled ever so slightly, until finally, he just got some grass behind it to make it stay.

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“It just kept moving,” Langer said. “I put it down, and it would just roll, and I’d put it down again and it’d still roll. You can’t just put it anywhere. You’ve got to put it as close as possible [to where it hit the ground].”

It was not a desirable lay, and Langer’s chip shot popped up and lipped the hole before rolling back.

“If I had a clean lay, I could have put more spin on it,” Langer said. “Shouldn’t have hit it there in the first place, I guess.”

However, Langer, a two-time Masters champion, was still fine. He Xeroxed his first-round score, shooting six-under-par 65 Saturday, putting him at 12-under to take a three-stroke lead in the Toshiba Classic. But he was even-par for four of the last five holes, including two par-fives at Newport Beach Country Club. Langer bogeyed the 17th after his chip shot lipped that hole, then slid 55 feet down the hill.

Morris Hatalsky, Jeff Sluman, Tim Simpson, 2005 Toshiba champion Mark Johnson, and Keith Fergus are all tied for second, three strokes behind, trying to gain the winner’s check of $255,500.

Saturday’s finish could leave Langer open today, especially considering that every victor on the 2008 Champions Tour has come from behind to win an event. The most dramatic game of catch-up came from Jerry Pate, who trailed Gil Morgan by four strokes at the Turtle Bay Championship before he won.

That possibility gives more weight to making birdies on the par-fives. Langer reached the 15th and the 18th with a three-wood and a five-wood, respectively, but couldn’t convert Saturday.

“I definitely gave some of the players a chance again,” Langer said. “If I had closed out the way I played the first 14 holes, I would have a six-shot lead right now or something like that, and it would be a lot easier [today]. But I’m still three ahead. I’m playing well. If I shoot a good round tomorrow, it’s going to be difficult for them to catch me.”

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