CARY, N.C.: Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Woody Austin topped the SAS Championship leaderboard at 9 under Saturday, leaving Jim Furyk three strokes back in his bid to become the first player to win his first three PGA Tour Champions events.
Clarke had a 6-under 66, Montgomerie shot 67 and Austin 69 at Prestonwood Country Club. Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer (66), Vijay Singh (66) and David Toms (67) were a stroke back.
Furyk was 6 under, following an opening 70 with a 68. He won at Warwick Hills and Pebble Beach, two courses he played regularly on the PGA Tour.
Clarke birdied the final two holes and four of the last five in a bogey-free round.
The greens are awesome, Clarke said. I mean, the whole golf course is awesome, but the greens are as pure as youre going to play anywhere in the world. Theyre running about 12 1/2, so you leave yourself in the wrong position on the greens, youll be struggling to two-putt. So youve just got to play a little bit smart, try to play smart, which isnt always my strongest point.
Montgomerie also closed a bogey-free round with two birdies.
Ive been changing my swing, Montgomerie said. Ive lost a little weight and I put a little bit on again. American food, you cant help it. Ive been coming more inside on the backswing, or it feels like that, it might not look it on the screen, but it does definitely feel. Coming inside. So Ive got a better launch, Ive got a better trajectory, just the whole things better than it was. A better flight in the ball and its going further.
Defending champion: Jerry Kelly was 5 under after a 67.