Champions Tour star birdies 8 holes

CONOVER, N.C. -- North Carolina has been kind to
Bruce Fleisher.

Four of his 18 Champions Tour victories have come in the Tar
Heel state, including three straight titles at the Home Depot
Invitational in Charlotte from 1999-2001. Fleisher also has won the
RJR Championship in Winston-Salem in 2002.

On Saturday, Fleisher moved closer to a fifth victory when he
parlayed eight birdies into a tournament-low 65 and
cruised to a 3-shot lead after the second round of the Greater
Hickory Classic.

"I like North Carolina," Fleisher said. "I like Charlotte and
I like Winston-Salem and, hopefully, I can say I like this place,

Fleisher hit all 14 fairways at Rock Barn Golf & Spa and used 26
putts to improve to 9-under-par 135 entering Sunday's final round.
He distanced himself from first-round leader Mark Lye and Doug
Tewell, who share second at 6 under par.

Fleisher's only bogey came on a 3-putt from 30 feet at the
tricky par-4 sixth hole. He got the stroke back at the par-3 ninth
and streaked to a five-birdie 31 on the back nine.

Lye shot even-par 72 at the 7,097-yard Robert Trent Jones Jr.
course. Tewell posted his second straight 69. Jerry Pate fired a 67
to move into a fourth-place tie at 5 under with 2003 runner-up Larry
Nelson, who finished with 69.

A one-time winner on the PGA Tour, Fleisher accumulated seven
victories in 1999 as a rookie on the Champions Tour. He has won at
least once a year since then.

"I came along at the perfect time," Fleisher said. "Six years
ago, guys like Tom Shaw and DeWitt Weaver -- even though they were
my peers -- were getting older. The timing was just perfect."

Tewell changed putters after his opening-round 69 on Friday, but
his score didn't change. He borrowed a heavier model with more loft
to combat slower-than-usual green speeds at Rock Barn.

"I seemed to roll the ball better, but I'm way overdue to go
low," Tewell said. "I'm hoping tomorrow is that day. I'm not
having a good year for me, but my goal is to really make these next
four weeks a good stretch."

Defending champion Craig Stadler double-bogeyed the par-3 17th
hole and slipped to 9 shots off the pace at 144 after two rounds.

Joe Inman and Morris Hatalsky each posted 67 and are tied for
sixth at 4 under par with Jim Thorpe, Bobby Wadkins, Jay Sigel and
Bob Charles.

Fleisher is 12-for-15 when leading entering the final
round of a 54-hole event ... Tewell has posted nine straight
under-par rounds in Champions Tour competition ... Sigel won the
two-round Georgia Pacific Grand Champions competition for players
age 60 and over with a par to Charles' bogey on the first hole of a
sudden-death playoff ... Allen Doyle said he plans to give $1.1
million to his alma mater, Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.
When Doyle won the Charles Schwab Cup in 2001, he donated the
prize, a $1-million annuity, to charity.