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Calcavecchia Up by One in Regions Tradition
Mark Calcavecchia carded his second straight 3-under 69 to move a shot ahead of Jay Haas in the Regions Tradition. The $2.2 million event, the Champions Tour's first major of the year, is taking place at Shoal Creek near Birmingham, Ala.
The 53-year-old Calcavecchia, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour who hasn't tasted victory since the 2012 Montreal Championship, carded four birdies and a bogey Friday to get to 6-under 138.
The Florida native began play tied for the lead with Haas, who posted a 70 Friday, Chien Soon Lu and Olin Browne. Lu dropped way down the leaderboard after a 5-over 77, while Browne had a 71 and shares third at 4-under with Kenny Perry. Perry's 68 was Friday's low score.
Haas had a chance to stay in a tie for first, but the 60-year-old, a 16-time winner on the over-50 circuit, bogeyed the par-4 closer, which Calcavecchia birdied to take the overnight lead.
"It really doesn't matter, other than the fact that I'm happier that I made the putt on the last hole, made the 8-footer for birdie as opposed to missing it," said Calcavecchia.
"Sixty-nine sounds better than 70, it always has," added the former British Open champion. "It always feels good to birdie the last hole. Leading as opposed to being tied for the lead, that makes no difference whatsoever to me."
Haas got off a rousing start with four straight birdies to begin the round. But he tapered off from there, bogeying the fifth to make the turn in 3-under 33, and adding a birdie on the par-3 17th and two bogeys coming home.
"I didn't put myself into a lot of bad positions," Haas said. "Being 4-under after four was kind of a dream start and it kind of slowly got away from me. But I like my position. I feel pretty good about my situation going into the weekend."
Three behind Calcavecchia are John Cook (70) and Steve Elkington (71), while four back is Tom Pernice Jr. (70).
Defending champion David Frost is within eyeshot of the leaders. The South African has recorded rounds of 72 and 71 and is now at 1-under.
One of the pre-tournament favorites, Fred Couples, continued to struggle. The 10-time Champions Tour winner followed up his opening 77 with a 74 and is well down the leaderboard.
Bernhard Langer, a two-time winner already this year and the pacesetter in the season-long FedEx Cup points race, shot a 70 after starting with a 74.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/champions/leaderboard.html.