Bernhard Langer remained in position Saturday in the Hoag Classic to break a tie with Hale Irwin for the PGA Tour Champions victory record.
Langer played the final five holes in 5 under — going birdie-eagle-par-birdie-birdie — for a 5-under 66 and one-stroke lead with a round left. The 65-year-old German star tied Irwin at 45 victories a month ago in the Chubb Classic in Florida.
“Just really played well, gave myself lots of opportunities,” Langer said. “And like the eagle, as good as three shots as I can possibly pull off.”
Langer opened with a 64 on Friday for a share of the first-round lead with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Chris DiMarco. Jimenez shot a 67 on Saturday to fall a stroke back with Doug Barron (66) at Newport Beach Country Club.
Langer won at the course in 2008. On Saturday, he offset three birdies with three bogeys on the first 13 holes. He pitched in for birdie on the par-3 eighth.
“The chip-in on 8, or the pitch-in, it was a miracle,” Langer said. “You give me 10,000 balls, I wouldn’t make another one, I think. It was one of those kind of shots. The eagle was huge as well.”
Fred Couples was two strokes back with Brain Gay. The 63-year-old Couples, the 2010 and 2014 winner at Newport Beach, had a 66. Gay shot 65. Charles Schwab Cup leader Steve Stricker was tied for seventh at 8 under after a 68.
“I think anybody within five shots of the lead has a chance,” Langer said. “So, there’s a whole bunch of guys and big names, good players. I have to go low, yeah. Even par’s not going to do it, or a couple under. I’ve got to go better than that.”