Hoover, Ala. Andy Bean birdied the final hole to take a one-shot lead over Mike Goodes on Saturday heading into the final round of the Regions Charity Classic, with two top Champions Tour players in close pursuit.
Loren Roberts and Denis Watson were just two strokes behind after closing the gap with matching 66s. Bean capped a second-round 68 with a 151â2-foot birdie putt on the 7,356-yard Ross Bridge course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, moving to 11 under.
"I was sure when it was halfway there it was in," Bean said. "That's a great feeling."
The 5-foot-7 Goodes nearly matched the strong finish to preserve the tie for first place for a second straight day, but settled for par when his try for birdie fell inches from the hole.
"I just can't shake the little guy," said the 6-foot-4 Bean, an 11-time PGA Tour winner seeking his second win in five-plus years on the Champions Tour.
Goodes is after his first. An amateur until joining the 50-and-over circuit two years ago, the North Carolina businessman has had to qualify for all six of his events this year and can nab a year's exemption with a win.
"I've been telling myself for the last few months I just want to be in position where I have a hard time sleeping Saturday night," Goodes said. "It's easy to sleep when you're tied for 40th."
Mike Hulbert was three shots back, and Joey Sindelar was four off the lead after both shot 68s. Leading money winner Bernhard Langer bogeyed the final hole for a 71 and was five shots off the lead, while two-time defending champion Brad Bryant (70) was nine shots behind.
Goodes also found it "pretty cool" that he was not only paired with Langer, but keeping score for the two-time Masters winner.
"I was thinking, 'My buddies are going to get a kick out of that,"' he said. "I got to sign his scorecard."
Watson just picked up his second victory of the year at the FedEx Kinko's Classic on May 4 with the wins coming when he was five and seven strokes down going into the last round. He was in a more comfortable position this time.
"If you've got a shot on Sunday, that's what you like," Watson said. "That gets your competitive juices flowing. You don't like being five back, you don't like being seven back. One or two back, and your juices are flowing and you're chomping at the bit to get going."
Seeking his first win after topping the Charles Schwab Cup points race in 2007, Roberts drained a 23-foot downhill putt from just off the green for birdie on the 17th hole. He and Watson were playing partners and at least one of them had a birdie on each of the final nine holes.
The players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls for the second straight day after earlier rains, but had sunny conditions with a slight breeze for the second round.
"It was just a little tougher to separate yourself today," Roberts said. "Low rounds were out there."
There will again be a two-tee start today to try to finish ahead of rain forecast for late in the afternoon.