The 6-foot birdie putt slid past the cup, a rare miss these days by Tom Lehman. He still was only one shot out of the lead Friday in the Funai Classic at Disney, which is no longer a rarity.

Winless for almost five years, Lehman put himself in weekend contention for the third straight week with a 6-under 66 on the Magnolia course, putting him in today's final group and a stroke behind Briny Baird.

"It's nice to get in the hunt and have a chance to either blow it or do something great," Lehman said. "I feel like I haven't blown it the last two times, but I haven't done anything great."

He gets another chance at Disney, where players will keep firing at flags until someone gets to hoist the bronze trophy of Mickey Mouse & friends.

Baird isn't having quite the season he did in 2003 when he qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time, but that could change over the next two days. He shot a 66 on the Palm course and was at 13-under 131.

"The mind-set going into the weekend won't change," Baird said. "I probably need to make another 12 to 15 birdies on the weekend to have any chance at winning the golf tournament."

Cameron Beckman, squarely on the bubble at No. 123 on the money list, had a 65 on the Palm and was in the group at 133 that included Hank Kuehne (64), Kirk Triplett (67) and Skip Kendall (67).

About the only one who didn't take it low on a breezy, warm afternoon was the No. 1 player in the world. Vijay Singh didn't give himself enough good looks at birdie and had to settle for a 71. That left him at 137 and in a tie for 28th as he tries to win his fourth straight PGA Tour event.

The cut was at 4-under 140. Among those who won't cash a check this week are four guys who were just outside the top 125 on the money list with only one more week to get their card. They included Jason Bohn (No. 128) and Scott Hend (No. 132), who followed his 64 with a 78.

Baird had seven birdies and, equally important, six par saves in taking only 23 putts. This is only the third time he has been the 36-hole leader, but it's probably the most tenuous of all.

Not only was his lead only one shot, there were 26 players within five shots of it with 36 holes to play.

Chris DiMarco, who considers Disney the biggest event outside of the majors because of his Orlando roots, had a 65 at Magnolia and was in the group at 10-under 134 that included Harrison Frazar.

Chad Campbell had a 67 and was in a large group at 136, still in position for a rare Orlando sweep — he also won the Bay Hill Invitational in March.

It was shaping up as an intense weekend of birdies, although Baird seemed unimpressed by it all.

"I don't think I put the emphasis on winning," Baird said. "It seems like all the media does. I pride myself in playing well and giving myself opportunities. Winning is difficult — I'm not going to deny that. But winning is just one week. I get more satisfaction out of playing well for an entire year."

Then again, this is the guy who said the Tour Championship was just another $6 million event when he had a chance to qualify last year — then was thrilled when he made the elite field.

Lehman used to be a regular at the Tour Championship, but his game has tapered the last two years. His last victory was the 2000 Phoenix Open, and he finished outside the top 50 on the money list each of the last two seasons.

Suddenly, he looks like the Lehman of old.

He played in the final group Sunday in Las Vegas and Greensboro, closing with rounds of 69 and 70 to finish in a tie for second and a tie for fourth.

The difference has been his short stick, which is no longer the shortest stick in his bag. Lehman switched back to his long-handled putter at the Canadian Open last month, and watching more putts disappear into the cup has helped his confidence return. He has had 17 consecutive rounds at par or better since going back to that putter.

"Good putting is what wins tournaments," Lehman said. "You can't ever hit it good enough to be able to win unless you're making your share of putts."

Lehman's position near the top of the leaderboard is nothing new. Now all he has to do is finish it off.

"This tournament is like a sprint," he said. "Some tournaments are like a marathon, where you've got to pace yourself and have patience. This one is more like the 400 meters. You've got to put the pedal to the metal and go as hard as you can for four days."

CHARLES SCHWAB CUP CHAMPIONSHIP: At Sonoma, Calif., Tom Kite ground out a 2-under 70 in the second round to maintain his one-stroke lead over Morris Hatalsky, Dana Quigley and Hale Irwin at the Champions Tour's season-ending event.

Hatalsky's 5-under 67 was the best round among the leaders, but Kite stayed in front at 10-under 134 with an afternoon of saves and clutch putting.

Irwin shot a 69. David Eger and 2003 champion Jim Thorpe matched Hatalsky for the day's best round.

In the 54-hole Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions tournament, played within the regular competition for players over 60, Raymond Floyd and Mike Hill were tied at 6-under 138. That competition ends Saturday.

MADRID OPEN: At Madrid, Spain, England's Paul Broadhurst shot a 6-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Madrid Open. Broadhurst, who hasn't won on the European tour in nine years, finished 10-under 132, just ahead of Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (63), South Africa's Darren Fichardt (66) and Johan Edfors of Sweden (67).