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Langer in lead heading into final round at Hualalai

Bernhard Langer closed with back-to-back birdies to shoot a 7-under 65 today to take a one-shot lead over Fred Couples with a two-day total of 15-under 129 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Second round leaders, par 72
Bernhard Langer 64-65–129
Fred Couples 65-65–130
Kirk Triplett 67-64–131
David Toms 69-63–132
Lee Janzen 66-66–132
Olin Browne 65-67–132
Duffy Waldorf 64-68–132
Tom Pernice Jr. 69-64–133
Rocco Mediate 67-66–133
Gene Sauers 65-68–133
Joe Durant 68-66–134
Jeff Maggert 68-66–134
Billy Andrade 69-66–135
Colin Montgomerie 68-67–135
Woody Austin 68-67–135
David Frost 66-69–135
Doug Garwood 66-69–135
Marco Dawson 64-71–135
Carlos Franco 68-68–136
Scott McCarron 72-65–137
Fred Funk 70-67–137
Paul Broadhurst 68-69–137
Miguel Angel Jimenez 71-67–138
Esteban Toledo 70-68–138
Jesper Parnevik 69-69–138
Jeff Sluman 68-70–138
John Daly 65-73–138

Couples birdied four of the first five holes en route to a 7-under 65 to come in at 14-under 130 after 36 holes. Langer began the day tied for first with defending champion Duffy Waldorf and Marco Dawson after an opening-round 64 at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course located adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kirk Triplett shot an 8-under 64 to sit alone in third at 13-under 131. There were 47 golfers who teed it up in the first event of the PGA Tour Champions season with nine within four shots of the lead entering Saturday’s final round. Conditions were ideal the first two days as 41 golfers are under par.

Couples, who missed most of last year with wrist and back injuries, showed few signs of rust after carding 16 birdies against two bogeys but couldn’t shake Langer, who has won this event twice. Langer was named the tour’s player of the year with four wins and four runner-up finishes. He stayed close to Couples for most of the round thanks to five birdies on the front nine. He came home with four more birdies against a lone bogey at the 12th.

Several times on the back nine Couples fought through a sore back, wincing on his drive at 18 and trying to do stretching exercises whenever he could.

“It’s barking,” Couples said of his back after bogeying the last hole. “But I made it through the round.”

Champions tour rookie David Toms is in a group of four golfers tied for fourth at 12-under 132 after he shot the best round of the day at 9-under 63. Joining him are Waldorf (68), Lee Janzen (66) and Olin Browne (67).

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