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Preview: Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn

 

Langer, Lehman continue battle for Schwab Cup

CONOVER, N.C. (AP) The first impression Tom Lehman had of the Greater Hickory Classic course came from looking at past tournament scores.

The 53-year-old thought it was an easy course.

Then after he played his first practice round earlier this week on the course designed by Robert Trent Jones, the former British Open champion quickly changed his mind.

``I was seeing a bunch of low scores here, so I figured this course must be easy,'' Lehman, who has four PGA Tour victories in addition to his 1996 British Open title, said Thursday. ``But I've found the last two days that it's anything but easy. It's playing fairly long and the greens are really fast. The other players are saying the greens are the fastest they've ever seen them play.

``It's quite a test. ... I like it. To say I'm impressed is a real understatement.''

Lehman enters this week's PGA Champions Tour event, which begins Friday, trailing Bernhard Langer by 69 points in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.

Langer, 55, took over the points lead after rallying from six strokes down to win last week's Champions Tour event in Cary, N.C., ending Lehman's eight-week run as the leader.

``I've actually played very solid throughout the whole year,'' said Langer, a two-time Masters champion who has 16 career victories on the 50-and-over tour. ``I've been very consistent; it's probably been one of my most consistent years.''

Both players are looking to win the Charles Schwab Cup and its $1 million annuity for the second time in their careers. Lehman is the defending champion and could become the first player to win the title in back-to-back years, while Langer won the prize in 2010.

However, with just two tournaments remaining - in San Antonio in two weeks, followed by the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov. 1-4 - after the Greater Hickory Classic, a bad weekend here could let Lehman close in or Langer pull further ahead.

``There isn't any way you can lock it up, no matter who you are,'' said Lehman, who has one win (at Shoal Creek, Ala., in June) and 10 top 10s in 16 events this season. ``But you can certainly do yourself a favor by playing well.''

Both players head into this weekend's tournament on a roll. In addition to winning twice, Langer has finished in the top 10 in 11 of his last 12 starts, while Lehman has seven top 10s in his last eight tournaments.

``I'm not afraid of'' a letdown, said Langer, who ended a 17-month winless stretch with his victory at Blaine, Minn., in August. ``I'm just going to play my own game and hopefully continue to play well. If Tom or somebody else plays that much better, then hats off to them.

``I can't control anybody else; I'm just trying to play as good as I can, Langer said. He added that if he can play like he did in the final round at Cary, when he shot a 9-under-par 63, ``I can compete with anybody at the highest level.''

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
Greater Hickory field
Michael AllenTommy Armour IIIChip Beck
Jay Don BlakeMark BrooksOlin Browne
Robin ByrdMark CalcavecchiaRoger Chapman
Bobby ClampettRuss CochranJohn Cook
Joe DaleyAllen DoyleJoel Edwards
David EgerBrad FaxonRick Fehr
Dan ForsmanJeff FreemanDavid Frost
Fred FunkJim Gallagher, Jr.Bob Gilder
Bill GlassonMike GoodesJay Haas
Walter HallGary HallbergJohn Harris
Jeff HartP.H. Horgan IIIHale Irwin
Peter JacobsenTom JenkinsTom Kite
Bernhard LangerTom LehmanWayne Levi
Steve LoweryChien-Soon LuSandy Lyle
Andrew MageeJames MasonDick Mast
Mark McNultyLarry MizeGil Morgan
Mark MoulandLarry NelsonMark O'Meara
Jerry PateSteve PateCorey Pavin
David PeoplesKenny PerryTom Purtzer
Dana QuigleyMike ReidLoren Roberts
Eduardo RomeroJim RutledgeGene Sauers
Peter SeniorJay SigelScott Simpson
Jeff SlumanRod SpittleCraig Stadler
Lance Ten BroeckJim ThorpeEsteban Toledo
Bob TwayBruce VaughanBobby Wadkins
Duffy WaldorfD.A. WeibringMark Wiebe
Willie Wood 
Course: Rock Barn G&S, Par 72 | Yardage: 526
HoleParYardageHoleParYardage
14436104431
24476114451
33187124375
45568134433
54415145573
64451153150
75507164389
84335173190
93197185526