SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Defending champion John Cook shot a 2-under 69 on Friday at Harding Park to take a one-stroke lead over Tom Kite and Tom Lehman in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
A day after opening with seven birdies in a bogey-free 64, Cook was even par through 15 holes before he eagled the par-4 16th. He followed with pars on the final two holes to get to 9-under 133.
Last year, Cook won by five strokes at Sonoma Golf Club.
Kite had a 67, and Lehman shot a 68.
Mark O’Meara (65), Russ Cochran (68) and Fred Funk (70) were 7 under, and Schwab Cup points leader Bernard Langer (69) was in a group at 6 under. Fred Couples was 4 under after a 69.
Couples needs to win to catch Langer in the two-man race for the $1 million annuity. Even if Couples wins, Langer would take the top prize with a two-way tie for fourth or better.
Funk was tied with Cook atop the leaderboard before a double bogey on No. 18 dropped him back into the pack. Funk’s approach on the par-4 final hole went into the deep rough well left of the fairway and his third shot landed in a bunker. He hit a wedge out of the sand, then two-putted for a 6.
Langer also had a run at the leaders when his birdie on No. 16 put him at 8 under along with Funk and Lehman. The points leader fell back a hole later with a double bogey on the par-3 17th.
Langer’s tee shot fell 15 yards shy of the green and his approach skipped over the green and into the rough. He then chipped up and two-putted.
Cook scrambled to save par out of the sand on No. 9 and bogeyed the par-4 13th to drop to 6 under, which left him two shots off the pace. He rebounded with a birdie on No. 14 then hit his driver on the 250-yard 16th within 4 feet of the pin. He sank the short putt for eagle, then parred out while Funk faltered.
Kite, whose best finish this season was third at the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in September, birdied three of the final five holes and nearly holed out on the 16th.
His tee shot hit the green and lipped out of the hole before rolling 15 feet past the pin. Kite missed his eagle try and settled for birdie, then added another birdie on No. 17 to pull within a stroke of Cook.
(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)