VALDOSTA, Ga. -- While a 4-under 68 on Saturday helped Bryan DeCorso hang on to the top spot at the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Co. -- the ninth of 30 official events on the Nationwide Tour -- it was the emergence of a host of players with Georgia ties that thrilled the locals on Saturday.
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DeCorso, a 36-year-old native of Ontario, Canada, moved to 11-under 205 and will enter the final round with a one-stroke lead over Greg Owen (65). But five players with ties to the host Peach State positioned themselves inside the top 10 with a chance of tracking down the frontrunners.
"I'm actually a little shocked that I'm only one stroke up," said DeCorso, who hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation. "Someone obviously played really good today. I've got my work cut out for me tomorrow. I just have to keep my focus and keep the same routine."
DeCorso, a multiple mini-tour winner, posted a fourth-place finish at last week's Henrico County Open, and has carried that momentum into this week's $625,000 event. Through the first three rounds, the former Kent State University standout has posted just three bogeys -- including a bogey-free effort on Saturday.
"It didn't play very easy today so I'm happy with what I've accomplished up to this point," said DeCorso, currently No. 38 on the official money list. "My goal has been to shoot all four rounds in the 60s and I'm on pace for that. The feel you get from playing this golf course is that it is getting tougher and trickier. But the game plan stays the same."
While the fourth-place finish was his career best, the fact that he entered the final round with a share of the lead left a bitter taste in his mouth. He is hoping for a different result on Sunday.
"I don't think I had any patience last week in the final round," said DeCorso. "I missed a short one on No. 10 and lost my focus. My pre-shot routine got fast. I didn't get down or negative, but I got fast. "
Owen made the biggest move of the day with a 7-under 65, including seven birdies on a 10-hole stretch (Nos. 8-17). The highlight of his round came at the 211-yard 15th hole when he fired a 6-iron to within a foot of the hole for a kick-in birdie.
"It was fun today," said Owen, who is perhaps best known for entering the 17th hole at the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational with one-stroke lead only to miss two putts from within four feet for double bogey (he finished one stroke behind). "It started off a little bit scrappy but then I got it going on No. 7. I've been playing so well this year, so I just hope to keep the momentum going."
While Owen and DeCorso seem to have the best chance to step into the winner's circle on Sunday, it appears the entire state of Georgia will be chasing them down. A quick glance at the top 10 on the leaderboard includes University of Georgia All-Americans David Miller (tied for third) and Brendon Todd (tied for ninth), former Georgia Tech All-American Bryce Molder (tied for fifth), former University of Georgia student and Augusta, Ga., native Scott Parel (tied for fifth) and Georgia Southern standout Blake Adams (tied for ninth).
"I had a solid round overall today," said Todd. "I'm going to try my best tomorrow and go as low as I possibly can. If I can post a 5- or 6-under round, hopefully I'll be able to make a run at these guys at the top of the leaderboard."
Third-Round News & Notes: The third-round leader has gone on to win three times in seven 72-hole events this season, including Jarrod Lyle (Mexico Open), Ewan Porter (Moonah Classic) and Gavin Coles (Chitimacha Louisiana Open). ... Last year, Australian Matt Jones and Paul Dickinson shared the 54-hole lead, only to see John Kimbell come from behind to claim the top prize by a stroke. ... Sunday's winner will take home $112,500 out of the $625,000 overall purse.