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Wiebe & Langer Now in Front at Senior British Open
While Mark Wiebe fired a 65, Bernhard Langer matched the American's 36-hole score of 5-under 135 with a 67 to give the two a share of the lead in the Senior British Open. The Champions Tour's final major of the year is taking place at par-70 Royal Birkdale in Merseyside, England.
After opening with a 70 Thursday, Wiebe went out in 1-under 32 and tacked on four birdies in his final six holes for a 32 on the home half for Friday's low round. "I really got my irons zoned in on the back nine," said 55-year-old Oregon native, a three-time winner on the over-50 circuit.
"I know there's a long way to go, but I'm tickled to be where I am. It was unbelievable and great to shoot the low round."
Langer, who's won 18 times on the Champions Tour, could have gone into solo first. The 55-year-old German had five birdies on the day, but a double-bogey - caused by a rare double-hit - on the par-4 sixth led to a 3-under total. "The ball was sitting up in the long grass and I caught it high on the clubface and again on the follow-through," explained the World Golf Hall of Fame member.
"But that was my only blemish," added the 2010 Senior British Open champion. "Most of it was impressive and good, and I putted a little better today."
David Frost shot his second straight 68 and is a stroke behind the leaders at 136, while tied for fourth are Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty (67), Australia's Peter Fowler (68) and first-round leader Gene Sauers. After opening with a 67, the 50-year-old Sauers had two birdies and a like number of bogeys for a 70.
Sauers admitted later that he wasn't quite as spot-on as in the opening round. "I started out kind of shaky," he said, "I made bogey on 1, bogey on 3 and made birdie on 4. Had a bunch of pars all the way around to 16 and made birdie. I'm happy where I'm at. I didn't hit the ball as well as I did yesterday. I didn't putt it as well, either. I had a couple 3‑putts. Other than that, I'm happy where I am. 3‑under, I'm right there. That's where I want to be."
Frost didn't feel like he played very well, but still managed to extract a 2-under score Friday. "It was a bit of a shaky round," the South African said. "I didn't feel comfortable with the club in my hand. I hit some wayward shorts, but managed to hit good irons into the greens and the putter was my savior."
Tied for seventh at 138 are Scotland's Sandy Lyle (68) and Americans Rocco Mediate (68) and Jeff Hart (69). Four out of the lead are New Zealand's Greg Turner (69), Aussie Peter Senior (71) and Japan's Kohki Idoki (68). Idoki won the Senior PGA Championship in May in his only other Champions Tour appearance.
Defending champion Fred Couples continued his struggles at Royal Birkdale. After a 74 in the first round, the 53-year-old from Seattle shot a 72 and is now tied for 46th at 6-over 146.
Other scores included a 71 by Champions Tour rookie Colin Montgomerie. The Scot opened with a 72 and is tied for 23rd at 143 with, among others, 1998 British Open champion Mark O'Meara (71). Three-time Senior British Open winner Tom Watson has recorded rounds of 73 and 71 and is another stroke back in a tie for 29th.
The cut was set at 8-over 148. Among those headed home are former major winners Craig Stadler, Ian Woosnam and Roger Chapman.
The 2013 Charles Schwab Cup points' leader, Kenny Perry, who won the first two majors of his career - the Senior Players Championship in June and the U.S. Senior Open earlier this month - isn't entered this week.
For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/seniortour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013858/leaderboard/index.html.