LUTZ — It doesn't seem fair to make middle-aged men sprint, but this year's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am has turned into a track meet.
After two rounds at TPC Tampa Bay, Bernhard Langer was atop a stacked leaderboard thanks to a second-round 66 for a two-day total of 9-under 133.
But he had plenty of players chasing him.
There were 10 golfers within four shots of Langer, including first-round leader Mark O'Meara and Mike Reid, who were just a shot back.
Tom Kite was by himself in fourth place after firing 67 to go with his opening 68. Those were his first consecutive rounds in the 60s this year and his first since 2002 at the Outback Pro-Am.
Then there were three more players three shots back, including defending champ Nick Price. A group of four were at 5 under, including Tom Watson.
And a case could even be made for Fred Couples, who shot 67 Saturday and was 4 under after two rounds.
Ready. Set. Go!
"My game plan seems to be working right now," Langer said. "I'll take my chances on some holes, but I'll play the way I have. I'm not going to look at the leaderboard (today) until the last few holes, just to see if I need to be aggressive or not."
Langer turned in one of his typically steady rounds. He had six birdies, including one on the 18th hole that gave him the outright lead. He has already won once this season, and he is looking to make the Outback Pro-Am his 10th win on the Champions Tour.
His best finish in this tournament is a tie for 13th last year. The only thing he cares about this year is a trophy.
"You play to win out here," Langer said. "I've had too many seconds in my career."
O'Meara knows all about that. He has eight of them on the Champions Tour, and if he doesn't make a move today, he could be looking at a ninth.
Like Friday's opening round, O'Meara started hot on the front nine with three birdies. But he was 1 over on the back nine and couldn't distance himself from the pack.
"I made two bogeys with a wedge in my hand," O'Meara said. "You should not make bogey with a wedge in your hand, but that's the way it goes.
"(Today) I've got to bring it. Like my caddie said: What have I got to lose? I've had a wonderful career, and certainly it would be nice to break through and win on the Champions Tour."
Reid has already won on the senior circuit, but he wouldn't mind doing so again. Like Friday, he bogeyed his first hole, the 10th. But he recovered and got back into hunt with 31 on the front nine to end his day.
"It was a tale of two nines again," Reid said. "If you saw me play the opening nine, you would've thought that's where I shot 31. But it was such an interesting day. On the first nine, I didn't capitalize, and to all of the world, it looked like I would be happy with two putts on several on the second nine and they dropped in."
Kite, 61, was one of the few players who had no complaints with his round. It has not been the best of times for him lately. He had surgery on his left shoulder in November and was unable to play for three and a half months. And in February his father, Tom Sr., died at 93.
But for one day, Kite was able to enjoy a good round of golf.
"It's been a strange year," Kite said. "Quite honestly, with the shoulder surgery, I didn't know what to expect. And certainly you don't anticipate a death like that. He was my best buddy.
"This is the first opportunity to get in one of the last couple of groups in 2010. I'm really looking forward to it. I may fall on my butt. I may win the golf tournament. But it's going to be a fun day."
For one player, at least. There is sure to be plenty of scoreboard watching, finding out who will make the final surge.
"That's the way it normally is on this tour," Reid said. "You have to play aggressively. That's the way you have to think on the Champions Tour. The tournaments I've won on this tour have all been four rounders. I'd like to win a track race once."