By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio – South Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh fired a 1-under-par 70 Saturday and extended his lead to three strokes after 54 holes of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the third of four Finals series events on the Web.com Tour.
Noh’s three-day total of 10-under 203 tops the 7-under mark of Cincinnati’s Jim Herman (67) and South Africa’s Tyrone van Aswegen (68).
Miguel Carballo (69) is alone in fourth place, four off the pace. Kelly Kraft (71), Alex Aragon (68) and Chesson Hadley (73) share fifth place, five shots back.
The winds around the Ohio State University Scarlet Course were a little calmer than the blustery conditions in Friday’s second round when Noh posted a 6-under 65 to take the lead, but they were enough to confuse the 22-year old from Seoul.
“Yesterday the wind was hard but it was really consistent,” said Noh. “It was easier to control the distance because it was consistent. Today the wind was swirling and then came up a little bit and died a little bit. It wasn’t consistent and made things tougher on the second shot.”
Noh wasn’t as sharp with irons as he battled the winds and left himself some sizeable putts. He did manage to roll in one 40-footer for birdie at No. 9 but he also three-putted twice, once for par, and needed 31 putts to complete his day.
Noh, in his second season on the PGA TOUR, finished No. 119 in greens in regulation but has turned that stat upside down and leads the field this week, hitting 43 of 54 for 79.6%.
“When you hit more fairways it’s easier to control the second shot,” he said.
Noh is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour but will be looking for his first victory in the United States on Sunday. He won the 2008 Midea China Classic as a 16-year old and then won the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open.
“Same plan for tomorrow,” he said, knowing a win will guarantee him a return trip to the TOUR for the 2013-14 season. “I’m thinking I will try for a five or seven-stroke lead. I’m thinking I’m playing a good game for tomorrow because just one more day and then go home.”
Noh, who travels with his older sister, has a condo in the Las Colinas area of Dallas but is hoping a win would also lock up a trip back home to Korea, where he hasn’t been since December.
“It doesn’t matter, first or second,” he said. “I have been here for about 10 months. A long time.”
Herman, who won a high school state team championship on this course, rebounded from Friday’s 4-over 75 with a five-birdie effort that put him in position to regain his TOUR card as well.
“Just play golf and let the results take care of itself,” said Herman, who was No. 139 on the FedExCup points list. “I know if I have a good week here, it’ll take care of things. Drive it in the fairway and that’s when you can be aggressive and try to make some birdies. If you’re in the trees all day you’re not going to be able to go at any pins.”
Herman was solid after opening with bogey at the first hole, dropping him seven shots back of Noh at the time. He bounced back on No. 2 with a 15-foot birdie putt and added a 20-footer at No. 7. Short birdie putts at Nos. 12 and 13 pushed his name to second on the leaderboard but he missed several chances down the stretch to get any closer than three.
The Web.com Tour Finals are a four-event series that features a blend of Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR players vying for 50 PGA TOUR cards and positioning for the upcoming 2013-14 TOUR season.
-- Saturday weather: Sunny skies. Overnight low of 42. Daytime high of 68. Wind NE 5-10 mph.
-- Sunday’s 4th-round play will be in twosomes off the 1st tee starting at 8:20 a.m. The final time will be at 1:00 p.m.
-- The ball was played “down” for the third round. Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first two rounds.
-- A total of 61 players made the 36-hole cut, the second fewest on Tour this year. There were exactly 60 who made the cut at the Mid-Atlantic Championship.
-- This is the first time that Seung-Yul Noh has held or shared a 54-hole lead in his Tour career. His previous best came at the 2012 AT&T National where he was tied for second, one shot back of leader Brendon de Jonge. Noh posted a 2-over 73 on the final day at Congressional CC and wound T4, four shots back of winner Tiger Woods.
-- Noh joined the Asian Tour as a 16-year old in 2008 and earned Asian Tour Rookie of the Year honors, thanks to his win at the Midea China Classic. The victory made him the third-youngest Asian Tour winner in history.
-- Noh won the for second time as a professional, capturing the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. He beat countryman K.J. Choi by a stroke.
-- The largest 54-hole lead on Tour this year is seven strokes by Will Wilcox at the South Georgia Classic. Wilcox went on to win by four shots.
-- The largest 54-hole lead in tournament history is three strokes by Dave Schultz in 2009. Schultz fired a 77 on the final day and finished T3 but four strokes out of a playoff between Rickie Fowler and eventual winner Derek Lamely.
-- The lowest 54-hole score in tournament history is 14-under 199 by John Peterson in 2011.
-- Alex Aragon chalked up five consecutive birdies on the front nine. Aragon’s streak covered holes 3-7 and matched the best birdie stretch in tournament history – Danny Wax had five in a row on holes 12-16 in the opening round in 2011.
-- Andy Svoboda, winner of last week’s Chiquita Classic, fired a 1-over 72 and his even-par for the tournament and is tied for 29th place.
-- Bogey-free rounds on Saturday:
67 – Scott Parel
68 – Casey Wittenberg, Tyrone van Aswegen
-- Jim Herman made the cut in 10 of 19 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. He had a pair of top-10 finishes in consecutive weeks – T10/John Deere Classic and T9/Sanderson Farms Championship. He also finished T11 at the Wyndham Championship but ended up No. 139 on the FedExCup points list.
-- Herman finished T43 at the Hotel Fitness Championship and T53 at last week’s Chiquita Classic. He came into the week No. 73 on the Priority Ranking that will determine the 50 players who earn PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming 2013-14 season, which starts next month.
-- Herman will be in search of his second career win on Sunday. His first title came at the 2010 Moonah Classic in Australia, where he defeated Chris Kirk in a playoff at Moonah Links, about 60 miles from Melbourne.
-- Tyrone van Aswegen made the cut in 11 of 23 starts this year on the Web.com Tour and had a pair of top-10 finishes – T6 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am and T8 at the South Georgia Classic.
-- Van Aswegen is making his 91st career start on the Web.com Tour. His career-best finish is a T3 at the 2009 Soboba Classic in California.
-- The Web.com Tour will take next week off and then head to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. for the Tour Championship Sept. 23-29. The last of the four Finals events will be held at TPC Sawgrass (Dye’s Valley).