In the third round of the Chiquita Classic, the second event in the Web.com Tour Finals, John Peterson and Andrew Svoboda are tied for the lead at 10-under.
DAVIDSON, N.C. – John Peterson and Andrew Svoboda took their foot off the gas, stayed patient on a difficult day and eventually moved into a share of the 54-hole lead at the Chiquita Classic, the second of four Web.com Tour Finals events.
Peterson, who has been on a tear for two months, chalked up five birdies on the back nine at River Run Country Club and matched the day’s best round with a 5-under 67 that put him at 10-under after three rounds. Svoboda closed with back-to-back birdies for a 3-under 69 that gave him a piece of the lead.
Texan Troy Matteson (67), Tennessee’s Peter Malnati (69) and second-round leader Greg Owen (71) of England are tied for third place, one shot back.
Six players – Brendon Todd (68), Ricky Barnes (69), Ben Martin (69), Vaughn Taylor (70), Hudson Swafford (71) and Will MacKenzie (72) – are three off the pace and tied for sixth place.
The Finals feature a blend of Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR players vying for 50 PGA TOUR cards and positioning for the 2013-14 season that starts in October.
“I just stayed out there and my caddie told me just to stay patient,” said Peterson, who turned the front nine in even-par. “I don’t usually do a good job of that but I did it today and it came around for me on the back.”
It came for Peterson because the former LSU All-American started hitting crisper shots off the tees and from the fairways.
“I was hitting good shots on the front and a bunch were in that 10- to 12-foot range,” he said. “I kept hitting it close and finally hit it close enough where it was hard to miss. I can make it from three feet, I just couldn’t make it from 10 feet today.”
Svoboda, winner of the Price Cutter Charity Championship last month, has been following a script similar to Peterson's this week -- plenty of fairways and plenty of greens.
The co-leaders have each hit 30 of 42 fairways off the tee and are T2 in that category, and both rank in the top-10 in greens in regulation.
“Anywhere around the lead is nice,” said Svoboda, a St. John’s grad. “It was really nice to finish with those two birdies.”
Following a 20-foot birdie at the par-3, 17th hole, Svoboda chose to lay up on the dogleg closing par-5 that is guarded by water down the right side.
“It was between a 3-wood and a hybrid for me,” he said. “I had 240 to the hole and hitting a 3-wood off a downhill lie just wasn’t good for me. I wasn’t sure I could get that one up in the air off that lie.”
His patience and strategy paid off with another birdie chance from 18 feet, which he rolled in as well.
The leaders will be grouped with two-time PGA TOUR winner Matteson in the final trio Sunday and the former Georgia Tech standout is happy to be within shouting distance of first place.
“On this course you’d rather be ahead,” he said. “This is not one where you can shoot nine or 10-under and catch back up. This is kind of a ‘steady Eddie’ course. It’s just very difficult to shoot a low number.”
• Sunday’s play will be in threesomes off the first and tenth tees. Times will run from 9-10:50 a.m. with an expected finish time of 4 p.m. ET.
• The Web.com Tour Finals will result in a total of 50 players gaining PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming season. The co-leaders have different objectives. Peterson is trying to secure a spot while Svoboda is jockeying for position in the group of 50.
Peterson just missed out on getting his TOUR card when he finished solo third at the Cox Classic in Omaha two weeks ago. Bronson La’Cassie’s birdie at the 72nd hole got him into a playoff (which he won) but also took just enough money away from Peterson to prevent him from cracking THE 25. He wound up No. 30 on the money list, whereas a T2 finish would have given him a spot among THE 25.
Svoboda, meanwhile, benefitted from the final standings and squeaked back into the top-25, getting the last of the cards available with the 25th spot.
• The final three holes will provide a tough finish on Sunday. Here’s how the top-5 players have played those holes down the stretch thus far:
|Leaders on the final stretch|
• Peterson has now made the cut in seven straight starts. Starting at the Midwest Classic in mid-July, Peterson has posted only one score over par in his last 27 rounds -- a 2-over 73 in the first round of the Mylan Classic. In his last 27 rounds, Peterson is a cumulative 89-under and has a scoring average of 68.11.
• Peterson made the cut in 13 of 15 starts this year and wound up No. 30 on the Regular Season money list. He also made the cut in five of six starts on the PGA TOUR and finished T8 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
• Peterson is even on the par-3s, 3-under on the par-4s and 7-under on the par-5s.
• Svoboda was a rookie on the PGA TOUR this year but made only seven cuts in 22 starts. His best finish was a T37 at the Wyndham Championship and he finished No. 202 on the FedExCup points list.
• Svoboda earned his first career win last month at the Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Mo. He shot a 6-under 66 in the final round to pull away from the field and win by three shots.
• Svoboda is 1-under on the par-3s, 5-under on the par-4s and 4-under on the par-5s.
• Malnati (T3) has made the cut in eight of his previous nine starts this year and has posted seven top-25 finishes. The Dandridge, Tenn. resident earned his first career win in front of hometown family and friends when he came from behind on the final day to win the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville one month ago. The win boosted him from No. 80 to No. 16 on the money list and guaranteed him a card for the upcoming 2013-14 PGA TOUR season. He ended the Regular Season No. 18 on the money list.
• Malnati shot a 3-under 69 and has now posted below-par scores in 30 of 37 rounds on the Web.com Tour this year. He started the week with a scoring average of 69.12, which ranked him No. 6 in that category.
• Troy Matteson (T3) has played on the PGA TOUR for the past eight years. He is a two-time winner of the Frys.com Open but those wins came in different states. He won the 2006 tournament when it was played in Las Vegas and then he won it again in 2009 when it was contested in Scottsdale, Arizona.
• Matteson made the cut in just 10 of 24 starts on the TOUR this year and wound up at No. 167 in the FedExCup standings.
• Matteson graduated from the Web.com Tour in 2005 after a record-setting season. He won twice (Virginia Beach Open, Mark Christopher Charity Classic) and was runner-up three times. He set a single-season money record with $495,009, which broke Zach Johnson’s previous mark.
• Owen (71), Michael Putnam (69) and Scott Gardiner (69) all carded bogey-free rounds Saturday.
• Putnam, the Web.com Tour’s leading money winner in the Regular Season, has posted scores of 69-74-69-212 (-4) and is tied for 19th heading into Sunday’s finale.
• Sixteen (out of 22) of the the top-25 Web.com Tour money winners made the 36-hole cut this week. Svoboda (T1), Malnati (T3), Todd (T6) and Martin (T6) lead the pack to date.
• Aaron Watkins made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 4th hole Saturday. Watkins used a 9-iron to ace the 158-yard hole. It was the second ace this week -- Marcel Siem, R2. Watkins posted a 4-under 68 and is tied for 19th place at 4-under 212. He is 6-under on the par-3s this week and leads the field in that category.
• Hudson Swafford leads the field in driving accuracy - 33 of 42 fairways/78.6 percent.
• Peter Malnati leads the field in putting with 76 total putts through three rounds.
• Course statistics for the week:
|River Run CC|
• The Web.com Tour moves into Ohio next week for the third event of the Finals. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship will be held at Ohio State University’s famed Scarlet Course Sept. 9-15. Last year, Virginia All-American Ben Kohles rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Luke Guthrie and win in his first professional start. Kohles, the 54-hole leader, birdied two of his final three holes in regulation to finish at 12-under and force a playoff with Guthrie, an All-American from the University of Illinois.