Bill Glasson scrambled back from a double bogey to salvage a one-shot lead Friday after the second round of the $3-million Tour Championship.
He squandered a two-shot lead when he left one in a bunker on the 15th hole at the Olympic Club, regained control of the lead with a birdie on the 17th and retained it with a save for par on the last hole.
The strong finish gave Glasson, who scored the sixth victory of his injury-plagued career earlier this season, a round of 68 to put him 8 under par (134).
Two South Africans, U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and David Frost, shared second with Steve Lowery.
Rick Fehr birdied the final two holes for 69 (136).
Nick Price and Greg Norman essentially shot themselves out of contention for the $540,000 first prize.
Norman had four consecutive bogeys in a 75 (144). Price, winner of the British Open, the PGA and four other American titles, struggled to 74 (145) and was 11 strokes back.
Glasson, a part-time resident of Oldsmar, took the lead with 32 on the front and went two ahead with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
Then, trying to get at a difficult pin on the par-3 15th, he double-crossed himself.
"My draw turned into a fade," he said, and the ball caught a bunker.
"It's out of character for me to make a mistake like that when I'm playing well," he said.
His next shot was more than a little out of character, too.
Trying to get it close to the pin, he swung under the ball and left it in the bunker. It took one more to get out and he two-putted for a double bogey.
That dropped him back into a tie, but he took control again with a wedge to 12 feet for birdie on 17.
Glasson flies a Beechcraft plane between PGA Tour stops. He has 1,500 hours logged in seven years of flying, and knows what he'd do with the event's first prize. "I play golf so I can fly," he said. "I have to support my habit. It's very expensive. Fuel is $2 a gallon."
Asked how the two activities compared, Glasson joked, "Golf isn't life-threatening. Well, it can be," he corrected himself. "In pro-ams."