Allegedly, golf is hard. The wails and lamentations of its victims have echoed throughout centuries. The late evangelist Billy Graham once said the golf course was the only place his prayers were never answered. The late slugger Hank Aaron joked that it took him 17 years to get to 3,000 hits in baseball, but only one afternoon on a golf course.

Paul Goydos made it look simple Saturday.

His neat little 69, bogey-free and somewhat carefree, boosted him to the top of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic leaderboard, positioning him for his first victory on the over-50 PGA Tour Champions in nearly four years.

Sunday’s final round is going to be quite the scramble, though. At 8 under through two rounds, Goydos enjoys but a one-stroke lead over Atlanta’s Billy Andrade. Six other players are just two back at 6 under, including three former champions of this event – Scott McCarron (2019), first-round leader Stephen Ames (2017) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (2014).

Usually getting so many 50-somethings crowded together in this kind of concentration requires a free steak dinner and a retirement seminar. Or an R.E.M. reunion, at least.

“It’s a shootout on Sunday,” said Goydos, doing a little tournament promotional work in his post-round spare time. And then he launched into a little numerology and meteorology. “Someone’s going to get to probably 12 under or something like that. I think we’re going to have another perfect day (for scoring). Weather might be a little warmer tomorrow with no wind.”

Sunday’s last grouping will feature three players all angling for their first win in some good while.

In addition to Goydos, there’s Andrade, who won three times on this tour in 2015 and then went silent running.

And relative newcomer Dicky Pride, the 51-year-old Pride of Tuscaloosa, whose last victory of any kind came in 2005 at the Triple-A level in what is now known as the Korn Ferry Tour (the WinCo Food Portland Open, to be precise). Pride, who also won once in the bigs (1994 St. Jude), earned his way into the final fold with Saturday’s low round of 67. Another flawless, five-birdie, no-bogey round. See, easy.

In his favor Sunday, Andrade will have the home-course advantage, for whatever that’s worth. It’s a small crowd at TPC Sugarloaf, but he will be favored by however many fans make the trek over these substantial hills and the vast expanses between holes.

And Andrade will enjoy some warm, fuzzy memories of his second round.

Most notably Saturday’s closing eagle on the par-5 18th, when he played a 4-iron bank shot off the mounding right of the green that Tim Duncan would have greatly admired, to eight feet of the pin.

And a hole-out from a back bunker on the tricky par-3 11th, spinning an over-amped tee shot into gold. Nothing to it. “Pretty basic bunker shot there, had a nice lie there and was kind of a chip and let it run to the hole and got lucky and it went in,” Andrade said.

Down the stretch Sunday, though, no one may hold a more substantive advantage than Goydos. Over the first two rounds he has played the back 9 in 8 under. None among the top seven has done better than 4 under.

“I putted better on the back nine. I don’t know, it’s just happenstance more than anything else, I would say. I’ve taken advantage of the holes that are more scorable,” Goydos said.

Still, he’ll take any edge that’s offered. “There’s always subconscious things – you know, I’ve had some success there,” said Goydos, whose best finish here was third in 2016.

“I like the golf course. It’s in tremendous shape. Hopefully that does help,” he said at the close of Saturday. “I’m surely not thinking about that right now, I’m thinking about dinner. But it can’t hurt.”

Goydos is well aware of the fact that he “won five times in the first three-and-a-half years (on the PGA Champions Tour), and I haven’t won any in the next three-and-a-half-years.”

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing. I can’t play defense. A lot of times I’ve gotten beat when I’ve had a chance, quite frankly. A couple of times I’ve messed it up pretty badly, too. It’s been a combination. Golf’s like that,” he said.

With so many in pursuit, making it look easy Sunday could be out of the question.

“Yeah, a lot of people have a chance. I’m glad to be one of them,” Andrade said.