Riegger takes big lead at the Rex Hospital Open

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Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
John Riegger holds the 54-hole lead at the Rex Hospital Open.
May 22, 2010
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Veteran John Riegger continued his red-hot assault at The Rex Hospital Open, opening up a five-stroke lead after 54 holes at TPC Wakefield Plantation. Riegger was bogey-free during his 8-under 63 Saturday, leaving most of the field in his wake. The 46-year old Las Vegas resident is at 20-under 193, which broke the tournament record by four strokes.

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Chris Nallen, playing with Riegger, carded a 5-under 66 but still lost ground as the day progressed. His 15-under total leaves him as the only person within shouting distance heading into Sunday's finale.

'He could have putted into a thimble today," said Nallen of his playing partner. "John's playing great. On the front nine today, seven of his putts went in and the other two looked like they'd go in. It's going to be tough to catch him tomorrow. Somebody might have to birdie every hole."

For a while Saturday, it looked like Riegger would do just that. Starting the day at 12-under and two in front of Nallen, Riegger quickly distanced himself from the pack with eight birdies on his first 13 holes. He did chip in from off the green at No. 10 and rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at No. 11, but the rest of his birdies were from close range.

"I played about the same today as yesterday. The last two days I was thinking about 59," admitted Riegger, who was 6-under through ten holes Friday and finished with a 64. "I made five straight pars today coming in and it felt like I was shooting a million."

Riegger's assault on the record books stalled down the stretch as he took his foot off the gas pedal.

"I hit some good shots coming in," he said. "With those pins, we just didn't have good numbers. I guess I could have been more aggressive but there wasn't any need to."

Nallen will have a front row seat again on Sunday when he and the others try to figure a way to prevent Riegger from earning his second career title

"I still have to play golf. My mentality is to make as many birdies as I can this week," said Riegger, who leads the field with 21 and has only one bogey. "If I can shoot three or four-under tomorrow it's going to be pretty hard to catch me."

The rest of the field will have to hope for some kind of collapse by Riegger, whose only other win came at the 2007 LaSalle Bank Championship in Chicago.

Adam Bland and B.J. Staten, a pair of lefties who each shot a 5-under 66, share third place with Canada's Dustin Risdon (67). The three players are 12-under and a distant eight shots back.

Third-Round Notes:

• This is the second time in John Riegger's Nationwide Tour career (135th start) that he has been at the top of the leaderboard after 54 holes. The other time came at the 2007 LaSalle Bank Open in Chicago. Riegger was tied at 13-under with Jason Day and Tag Rigings. He shot a final-round 68 to finish at 17-under 271 and won by one stroke for his only career title.

John Riegger has never led a PGA TOUR event after 54 holes (222 starts). The closest he has been after three rounds was a T6 at the 2008 Wyndham Championship, where he shot a 69 on the last day and was T20.

John Riegger's previous career-low score for 54 holes on the Nationwide Tour was 201 at the 2007 Cox Classic in Omaha.

John Riegger's 193 total broke the tournament's 54-hole record of 197 set by Jimmy Green in 1998.

• The largest 54-hole lead in Nationwide Tour history is seven strokes:

-- Greg Kraft, at the 2005 Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, shot 70 to win by two. -- Parker McLachlin, at the 2007 National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic, shot 77 to finish T4 (3 back).

John Riegger's 63 today matches his career-low round. His score is his lowest on the Nationwide Tour and equals his low on the PGA TOUR -- a 63 in the opening round of The Honda Classic in 2002 and then again in the second round of the 2004 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (Indian Wells CC).

The low first 54-hole score on the Nationwide Tour this year was 194 (16-under) by Fran Quinn at the season-opening Panama CLARO Championship.

John Riegger's 5-shot lead matches the largest 54-hole lead on the Nationwide Tour this year -- 5 strokes by Fran Quinn at the Panama CLARO Championship, which he won.

The Nationwide Tour record for most strokes under-par after 54 holes is 24 by Arjun Atwal at the 2008 Chattanooga Classic.

• The Nationwide Tour record for the lowest first 54-hole total is 190 by David Branshaw at the 2002 Gila River Golf Classic (23-under par). John Riegger's 193 total matches the fifth-lowest score in Tour history. Ironically, the last person to shoot 193 to begin a tournament was Chris Nallen at the 2004 Gila River Golf Classic (60-66-67).

Ryan Armour was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Armour signed for a 4 on the 5th hole but actually made a 5. This is the first time in Armour's Nationwide Tour career (119th start) that he has been DQ'd.

• High school sophomore Grayson Murray birdied the final hole and shot a 1-over 72 today. Murray, who became the second-youngest player ever to make a cut in a Nationwide Tour event (16 years, 7 months, 20 days), hit 10 of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens and had 31 putts. He is at 2-under 211 through 54 holes and T55.

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