Schultz in front after 54 holes in Columbus

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Dave Schultz is at the head of the leaderboard with just 18 holes remaining at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational.
August 01, 2009
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio. -- Dave Schultz admits he has always been the kind of golfer that would "hold on instead of keep going forward." The former TCU standout has changed his attitude and as a result, has charged to the top of the leaderboard after 54 holes of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational. Schultz fired a course-record 6-under-par 65 at Ohio State University's famed Scarlet Course Saturday to stake himself to a three-stroke lead heading into Sunday's final round.

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Schultz, one of three second-round co-leaders, also set a tournament record with his three-day total of 13-under 200. Australian Gavin Coles (67) is in second place and Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler (70) holds down third, five back of the leader.

Tom Gillis (69), Chris Tidland (70) and Joe Daley (71) are six behind Schultz, who is in his second year on Tour and in search of his first career win.

Much of the week has been a bonus for the 26-year-old leader, who was the 11th alternate when the field was originally set and never figured he'd even make into the 144-man tournament that featured eight First-Team All-Americans.

Schultz steadied his nerves on the opening few holes Saturday and slowly established himself as the man to beat, racking up six birdies on his first 12 holes.

"I'm in a position where I'm able to stay patient as far as my position in the field and on the leaderboard. Sometimes that's tough to do," he said. "I feel like when I get ahead of the curve I feel at ease and I feel like I'm a lot more patient and playing smarter and sticking to my game plan -- middle of the green, hit a long putt. If it goes in, whatever, knock in the par and just keep clicking off the holes and move along."

Schultz kept moving forward on one of the Tour's tougher terrains. The winning score two years ago was 6-under par and last year 5-under par took the top prize. Buckeye alum Jack Nicklaus probably never envisioned these kinds of numbers when he redesigned Alistair MacKenzie's 1938 layout in 2005.

"You can't play scared out here," said Schultz, who had made only two cuts in six previous starts this season.

Nearly an inch of rain fell mid-week, resulting in softer fairways and softer greens. There have been 71 rounds below 70 and 117 rounds below par over the first three days, topping the four-day totals of each category during the tourney's initial two years.

"I feel so comfortable on the tee box," said Schultz, who has increased his fairways hit from 6 Thursday to 10 Friday to 11 Saturday. "I'm swinging as hard as I can and I feel like I know where it's going. We just say before every tee shot, let it rip, and that's it. It's nice to be able to play free like that."

Schultz has handcuffed the rest of the field and forced their hand in Sunday's chase for the $139,500 check that will go to the winner.

"It feels good to stand on the tee box and you're just excited to let it go," said Schultz, who also happens to be leading the field in putting. "If it goes in the trees, so what. You know, so what. Get it up by the green and try to get up-and-down."

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Third-Round Notes:

• Texan Brad Elder matched the course record early Saturday with a 5-under 66. Elder jumped from T48 to T10 with his round today. Tournament leader Dave Schultz lowered the course mark to 65 a couple hours later.

• Schultz leads the field with 18 birdies this week. Amateur Rickie Fowler, Norway's Henrik Bjornstad and Dustin Risdon are next in line with 15.

• Schultz is also tied for the lead this week in Par-4 Scoring Average (3.79) and Par-5 Scoring Average (4.44).

• Coles leads in Greens in Regulation (45 of 54/83.33%) but is also last in Driving Distance with an average of 264.3 yards.

Player School Score Position
Rickie Fowler Oklahoma State 69-66-70--205 (-8) 3rd
Bo Hoag Ohio State 70-72-77--219 (+6) 64th
Morgan Hoffmann Oklahoma State 70-69-70--209 (-4) T13
Nick Taylor Washington 69-71-69--209 (-4) T13

• A total of four amateurs made the 36-hole cut this week. Here is how they are faring: Here is how the list of All-America exemptions are doing this week:

• Sunday's tee times will run from 7:51 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. with an expected finish time of 5:00 ET.

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