Conover, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Bernhard Langer fired a 6-under-par 64 on Friday to snare a share of the lead after the opening round of the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn.
Langer, who ranks first on the Champions Tour money list and second in the Charles Schwab Cup standings with three events remaining, is tied with Anders Forsbrand and Dick Mast through 18 holes.
"We've still got three tournaments," Langer said in a televised interview during his round. "There's a lot of golf to be played, a lot of points to be won and you just have to try and play as good as you can."
The tournament is being contested on a reconfigured golf course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa due to extensive damage cause by a July rain storm. Sections of the Jones Course and the Jackson Course at Rock Barn were combined to create the Champions Course, which will play to a par-70 as opposed to the original par-72 layout.
John Riegger and Olin Browne both carded 5-under 65s to share fourth place, while Brad Bryant and Mike Goodes shot matching 66s to occupy sixth.
Defending champion Fred Funk shot 3-under 67 to share eighth place with a large group which includes Colin Montgomerie and David Frost.
Langer, a two-time winner this season who has posted seven straight top-10 finishes, opened with five straight pars before notching three birdies over a four-hole span to turn in 31.
The German added birdies at Nos. 11 and 13 to reach the top of the leaderboard at 5-under, then added another gain at the 15th to stay one shot ahead of Forsbrand, who was 5-under through 12.
Langer then dropped a shot at the 16th, as his long par effort lipped out, and Forsbrand went ahead by a pair with back-to-back birdies from the fifth (his 14th).
The lead was short-lived, however, as Forsbrand 3-putted for bogey at the seventh and Langer dropped his third shot at the par-5 18th within 12 feet and kicked in for birdie.
The pair finished at 6-under and Mast, who teed off in the last group from the 10th tee, eventually joined them, carding six birdies during his bogey-free loop on the Champions Course.
NOTES: Forsbrand is coming off a tie for fifth at the SAS Championship ... Only five players still have a mathematical chance to claim the Charles Schwab Cup: leader Kenny Perry, Langer, Frost, Duffy Waldorf and Fred Couples ... On July 27, nine inches of torrential rain hit the Rock Barn Golf & Spa in just three hours. The back nine holes of Jackson Course are serving as the front nine of the Champions Course, while holes one through six and 16 through 18 of the Jones Course are being used as the back nine. The 12th and 14th holes (Nos. 3 and 5 of the Jones Course) were played under lift, clean and place conditions on Thursday ... With his start Thursday, Bob Gilder became the 16th player to start in 1,000 combined events on the PGA Tour/Champions Tour. He shot even-par 70 on Thursday.