Terry Mauney did it the way Dale Earnhardt used to.
Hanging back, staying within striking distance, then flooring it at the end to take the lead.
Mauney (pronounced moon-ee) wore a hat emblazoned with Earnhardt's car No. 3 and a hand-written "Miss you #3" in tribute to the NASCAR legend who died in a crash two weeks ago in the Daytona 500.
But the way he moved past five players and into the lead after two rounds of the Toshiba Senior Classic on Saturday at Newport Beach Country Club was as much a tribute to Earnhardt as the hat.
A former television sportscaster from North Carolina who became friendly with Earnhardt while covering auto racing, Mauney birdied the final three holes and shot a career-best eight-under-par 63. His two-day total of 12-under 130 is one better than first-round co-leader Bob Gilder, who shot 66 on Saturday.
Three shots behind is Larry Nelson, who may be the most soft-spoken player on the senior tour but has a certain way of getting the attention of his competitors.
Nelson, winner of six of his last 12 starts, among them two victories in four tournaments this year, shot eight-under 63 to move into contention.
Even with the hottest player on the senior tour tying his career-best professional round, Mauney stole the spotlight.
"I was ready to play this week," said Mauney, a tour rookie who started the day two shots behind a group of five leaders. "I was geared up and ready to go. I was ready to get on with it, as they say."
A one-time PGA Tour player, Mauney quit golf for two years because of bursitis in his left shoulder and went into broadcasting, where he was the local auto racing expert for WBTV in Charlotte, N.C. He became a teaching professional before entering the senior tour qualifying school last year at age 50.
The only player on the senior tour who wears an earring, Mauney did not play last week and was looking forward to his chance at the spotlight so he could pay tribute to his friend.
"I spent a lot of time with him as a TV reporter," Mauney said. "I went hunting with him and fishing with him and I was really saddened when he died. This has been my first chance to honor his memory, so I wore the hat."
Gilder, the only one of the five first-round leaders to distance himself from the field, looked as though he was going to run away in the second round.
He had a four-shot lead over Mauney after a birdie at 12, but made consecutive bogeys at 16 and 17 before making par at 18th--the first par-five he hasn't birdied this tournament.
Mauney's birdies on the three finishing holes gave him the lead.
"I finished with three poor shots, which I hadn't been doing, but that's all right," Gilder said. "I'm still there, still got a chance to win it. My caddie is going to have to postpone his rain dance."
With rain forecast for today and the threat of a final-round rainout for the second consecutive year, the importance of the second-round lead is not lost on Mauney, who acknowledged that he is rooting for a rainout.
"Who wouldn't be in this position?" he said.
Tom Kite and John Bland are tied with first-round co-leaders Dave Stockton and Jose Maria Canizares at seven under. Bruce Fleisher and Dana Quigley, the other first-round leaders, both shot 71 and are at six under.
Nelson, who holed out a 109-yard wedge shot for eagle on the 12th hole to jump-start his round, moved past 25 players to land in third place.
His move up the leaderboard did not go unnoticed by his competitors.
"You saw his name coming up on the leaderboard and you say, 'Hey, Larry is playing good again, what's new?' " Gilder said. "He's tough. I just figure Larry always comes."
Mauney said that if Nelson doesn't catch him and if he can fend off Gilder, he knows what he will do to celebrate.
Tour veterans Larry Ziegler and Gibby Gilbert, who have been giving Mauney a hard time about his earring, will be the first to know.
"I've been threatening Larry and Gibby that the first time I win a tournament out here, I'm going to put an earring in the other one," Mauney said.
At Newport Beach CC--Par 71
Terry Mauney 67-63--130 -12
Bob Gilder 65-66--131 -11
Larry Nelson 70-63--133 -9
Tom Kite 69-66--135 -7
John Bland 68-67--135 -7
Dave Stockton 65-70--135 -7
Jose Maria Canizares 65-70--135 -7
Hale Irwin 67-69--136 -6
Bruce Fleisher 65-71--136 -6
Dana Quigley 65-71--136 -6