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Sunday, March 25, 2012

CASEY WITTENBERG STORMS INTO NATIONWIDE TOUR LEAD

FROM THE US NATIONWIDE TOUR WEBSITE
By Joe Chemycz, Nationwide Tour staff
Broussard, Louiana -- Casey Wittenberg matched his career-low round with an 8-under 63 Saturday and stormed into the lead after three days at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Wittenberg's 18-under 195 total is four shots better than Darron Stiles (65) and second-round leader Camilo Benedetti (70) heading into the final at Le Triomphe Country Club near Lafayette.
Canada's Adam Hadwin, Paul Claxton and Rob Oppenheim all posted 3-under 68s and share fourth place, five back of the leader.
Chris Riley (66) and veteran Woody Austin (67) are six off the pace after 54 holes.
Wittenberg started the third round four back of Benedetti but made up ground with a pair of birdies to begin the day and then moved into contention with a 30-foot eagle putt at the par-5, 5th hole.
"That got my day started," said Wittenberg, who ripped a 3-wood from 260 yards on his second shot. "The conditions are soft and whenever you let players of our caliber on a soft golf course there isn't really much that you can't hit at."
The 27-year-old Memphis resident added a birdie at the par-3 8th hole to move into a share of the lead. He then took charge with three consecutive birdies midway through the back nine. Wittenberg birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 15 -- the three toughest holes on the course.
"We were trying to play aggressive golf," he said. "There's no running away and hiding on this Tour especially. We were just trying to get as many as we could out there."
Those birdies pushed him to 18-under and opened a gap on the field.
Stiles, who started the day five back, vaulted up the board with five birdies in his first six holes.
"You've got three par-5s in the first seven, that's where you have to get it done out here," he said. "With the wind today and the first few holes downwind, you had to get it done early. I looked at the scores before I came out, so I knew it was out there."
Stiles closed with a couple of late birdies for a 6-under 65 to get into Sunday's final pairing with Wittenberg.
Benedetti had three birdies in his first five holes but was shut out the rest of the day, managing 12 pars and a bogey coming in and settling for a one-under round of 70.
"It was solid. In my mind I probably shot 6-under," said Benedetti, who posted scores of 66-63 to open the week. "I hit a lot of good putts again. They didn't go in. The same way they were going in the first couple of days, they were just not going in today. I hit so many that were three feet from the hole and I thought I made them. They either stayed straight or broke more than I thought. It is what it is."
Third-Round Notes
• Saturday's weather: Sunny. Winds N 5-10 mph. High of 82.
• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first round and second round but NOT for round three.
• Steve LeBrun played the first 48 holes without a bogey. LeBrun made a quick run up the board early Saturday and was 6-under through his first 11 holes to get to 11 under. LeBrun then stumbled with a double-bogey at the difficult 13th hole and a bogey at the 14th. He finished with a 4-under 67 and is 9 under (204) and T20.
• Paul Claxton's birdie-free streak came to an end after 45 holes. Claxton made a bogey 5 at the par-4 10th hole. He rebounded with a pair birdies after that and shot a 3-under 68 (T4).

THIRD-ROUND LEADERBOARD
Par 213 (3x71)
Players from US unless stated
195 Casey Wittenberg 66 66 63
199 Darron Stiles 69 65 65, Camilo Benedetti (Colombia) 66 63 70
200 Adam Hadwin (Canada) 69 63 68, Paul Claxton 67 65 68, Rob Oppenheim 65 67 68
201 Chris Riley 65 70 66, "ooey Quw5in 69 65 67
SELECTED SCORE
205 Russell Knox (Scotland) 68 68 69

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