Calcavecchia grabs lead at Regions Tradition

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm •  Published: May 16, 2014
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Mark Calcavecchia's 8-foot closing putt for birdie put him in a better mood and sole possession of the second-round lead in the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek.

Calcavecchia insisted that only the first benefit was meaningful.

He shot his second straight 3-under 69 on Friday to reach 6 under and take a one-stroke lead over Jay Haas at the Champions Tour major. Haas had a 70 after they came in as part of a four-way tie in the major championship.

Haas missed a 4-footer on No. 18 to give Calcavecchia a shot at the solo lead at the midway point. Calcavecchia said finishing with a birdie improves his mood, lead or no lead.

"It really doesn't matter, other than the fact that I'm happier that I made the putt on the last hole, made the 8-footer for birdie as opposed to missing it," said Calcavecchia, who is seeking his first Champions Tour win since the 2012 Montreal Championship. "Sixty-nine sounds better than 70, it always has.

"It always feels good to birdie the last hole. Leading as opposed to being tied for the lead, that makes no difference whatsoever to me."

It was the highest score for a 36-hole leader at the Tradition since J.C. Snead was 6 under at Desert Mountain in 1996. The 36-hole leader has only won one of the last nine majors on the 50-and-over tour, with the exception being Mark Wiebe last year in the Senior British Open.

Calcavecchia's main concern is a rib problem he aggravated late in Thursday's round, leading to upper back spasms. He said it began flaring up again after swings starting on No. 14 Friday.

"It's like a delayed reaction, then it kind of goes away," he said.

Kenny Perry and Olin Browne were 4 under. Perry had a 68, and Browne shot 71. Browne was part of the first-round logjam along with Chien Soon Lu, who shot a 77.

Haas birdied the first four holes, and Calcavecchia had three birdies on the first six holes.

"I didn't put myself into a lot of bad positions," Haas said. "Being 4 under after four was kind of a dream start and it kind of slowly got away from me. But I like my position. I feel pretty good about my situation going into the weekend."