Two left-handed golfers, both of whom are rookies on the PGA Tour Champions and own Masters green jackets, reside at the top of the leader board after a 36-hole day at the $2 million Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
Canadian Mike Weir followed a first-round, 4-under-par 68 Saturday morning with a record-tying 9-under 63 Saturday afternoon on the Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course for a 36-hole total of 13-under 131. He is three strokes clear of Phil Mickelson, who posted 68-66 for a 10-under aggregate of 134.
Weir is playing in his eighth PGA Tour Champions tournament. The bogey-free 63 is his best score on the Tour. It is the fifth time the score has been posted in the DECC’s five-year history. Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 63 in last year’s final round to win the title.
Mickelson is playing in his second Champions Tour event. He won the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National in his debut.
Two rounds were played Saturday because of Friday’s rainout. Play was suspended because of darkness with a few players still on the course.
Retief Goosen (68-68 — 136) and Brandt Jobe (68-68 — 136) trail by five shots. Another stroke back is first-round leader and 2017 DECC champion Bernhard Langer (67-70 — 137) and Wes Short Jr. (69-68 — 137).
Ernie Els, the Schwab Cup leader, celebrated his 51st birthday Saturday and is tied with Paul Goydos at 138. Five players, including Jim Furyk, a two-time Champions Tour winner as a rookie, and fellow rookie K.J. Choi, are at 139.
“I’m super happy with the way I played. My mindset going into today knowing we had 36, I wanted to get in a nice rhythm for the day because there is so many holes. If you get in a nice rhythm, you can kind of ride it and I did that,” Weir said.
Everything was working for Weir, who logged 15 birdies and two bogeys.
“I’m playing really well. I’m driving it well, irons are good, pin high a lot, my putter’s nice, so my whole game feels good,” he said. “It’s great to be in the mix. I want to get out here to have a chance again. I haven’t felt those feelings in a long time. See if I can handle it tomorrow and have a chance coming down the last few holes, I hope.”
Weir couldn’t remember when he last slept on the lead.
“It would take me a while to come up with when. It’s been a long time, so it feels good,” he said.
Mickelson started slowly Saturday with two bogeys in his first three holes. An eagle on the par-5 sixth hole got him back to even and he finished the round with six birdies and two bogeys. He birdied three of his first four holes in the afternoon session and finished the day with 13 birdies, an eagle and five bogeys.
“I’m trying to attack. I’m trying to hit drivers and get after this course, but … it’s hard to do from the rough. I let a few wayward shots get away from me. I’ve just got to be sharper,” Mickelson said. “Having carts makes playing 36 a lot easier. I certainly enjoyed the day and don’t feel all beat up like we normally would.”
Goosen hung around the lead all day.
“This morning I played quite nicely and didn’t make the putts. This afternoon I played poorly, but made a few good putts. If I can combine the two tomorrow into a good round, that’s what you are probably going to need around here,” Goosen said.
Notes: The shot of the day belonged to Scott Verplank, who became the first player to make a hole-in-one at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. He aced the 180-yard fourth hole with a 5-iron. It was his first ace on the Champions Tour … Richmonder Bobby Wadkins, at 69 years old the most senior of the 50-and-over field, shot 76-74 — 150.