Sunday, May 02, 2010

Summerhays breaks up the Nationwide Tour logjam

The third round of the Nationwide Tour's Stadion Athens Classic at the University of Georgia course at Athens began with a jumbled leaderboard that had 37 players within six strokes of the lead. By the time it ended, there were only four players within a half-dozen strokes.
Daniel Summerhays of Utah fired a 6-under 65 to reach 13-under 200 and take the 54-hole lead at the University of Georgia Golf Course. Texan Martin Piller put together a bogey-free 64 and is one stroke back heading into Sunday's closer. Bradley Iles of New Zealand also put a 65 on the board and is at 11 under, two back.
Leading money-winner Bobby Gates, one of three co-leaders after each of the first two days, shot an even-par 71 and is alone in fourth place, six back of Summerhays.
Birdies were more plentiful during the third round, but most of the forward movement in the field came from the back and the middle of the pack, save for the top three.
"Today was fantastic," said the 26-year-old Summerhays. "It was probably one of my best rounds. I hit it pretty well and was rolling my putts perfectly. I had a lot of fun seeing my shots and being able to execute it, and that's why we play -- for days like that."
Summerhays, who began the misty morning as a co-leader with Gates and South Carolina rookie Mark Anderson (74-209), put together four consecutive birdies starting at No. 5 to move into the lead. In the stretch, he rolled in one from 15 feet, another from 12 feet and had a couple of short ones.
"It's nice to have a stretch like that and have a couple of tap-ins," he said.
The former BYU standout added three more birdies, including one at No. 17 and was at 14 under before falling victim to the difficult par-4 18th, which was the toughest of the day and played to 4.420.
"It's 490. Trees on both sides and a green that's really, really tough, that's what happened," mused the leader after suffering his only bogey of the day. "It's probably the toughest finishing hole we play."
Summerhays pulled his tee shot left and into some trees.
"I tried to hook a 7-iron up the hill and I got a little ahead of it," he said. "I worm-burned it up there."
He chipped to 15 feet but the missed his par putt, cutting his lead to one over Piller, whose 64 is the low round of the week.
"It was one of my best rounds that I've played as a pro," said the second-year man from Texas A&M. "It was probably one of my best rounds mentally. I never worried. I hit some really good shots and I hit some bad ones, but if I hit a bad one I didn't worry. I just thought about making the next one a good one."
They were all good for Piller, who canned five of his seven birdie putts from inside of 3 feet, including his final two holes.
Piller and Iles were in the same group and started canning birdies left and right beginning on No. 5.
"I'd make one, he'd make one and we just went back and forth," said Piller. "It's difficult to explain but one guy starts doing it and you just follow suit. It definitely helps. It's like NASCAR. It's drafting. There is a drafting element to it and it's nice when you have a guy right there with you and you go at it together."
Iles did his best to keep pace by hitting 15 greens, making five birdies and an eagle. He also enjoyed a big stretch starting at No. 5. The 27-year-old Kiwi canned birdie putts of 15 and 4 feet before tapping in a 4-footer for eagle at the par-5 7th to get to 9 under.
"It was good. We definitely fed off of each other," said Iles. "It keeps your intensity level up because you have to keep making birdies and keep charging. You can't be protecting anything because you know he's going to be making birdies and hitting it close."
Iles reached double digits with a monster birdie putt from about 50 feet on the ninth hole.
"I holed a bomb on nine. That was an illegal putt there," he said. "I wasn't supposed to make that. It was going. Seriously, it might have been down on the 18th green. It was easily going at least 12 feet past the hole."
Third-Round Notes: Fourth-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee beginning at 7:35 a.m. ... Skip Kendall had an ace on the par-3 third hole, which played to 192 yards. ... The trio of leaders were twice as good on the front nine as they were on the back. Summerhays, Piller and Iles were a combined 13 under on the front, compared to 6 under on the back. The three players accounted for 19 birdies, one eagle and only two bogeys on the afternoon.
Scott Gutschewski had an interesting stretch of three holes on the back nine today. The transplanted Texan's scorecard read 2-8-2 starting at No. 11, where he made an eagle-2 at the par 4. He then suffered a triple bogey at the par-5 12th hole and followed it up with a birdie-2 at the par-3 13th. He finished with a 3-over 74 and is tied for 46th. ... The scoring average for the round was 71.174.



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