COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- B.J. Staten and Jin Park share the 54-hole lead at the Melwood Prince George's County Open. Staten, the 36-hole leader, fired a 3-under 68 at the University of Maryland Golf Course to reach 14-under 199 and tie Park for the lead. The Korean-born Park posted a 5-under 66 to gain a share of the lead heading into Sunday's chase for the $108,000 first-place check.
Justin Peters also carded a 3-under 68 and finished the day right where he started, one shot back of the lead.
Staten began the day at 11-under and pushed it to 15-under with four birdies on his first seven holes.
"I really felt like I could step on the gas and just go ahead and take off and hide but sometimes it doesn't work that way," said Staten, who had 10 pars and a bogey from that point forward. "I swing the club good for the most part, maybe a few errant tee shots here or there. Unfortunately you have to do it all, you have to put it in play and you have to make the putts."
Staten had several chances to distance himself from the pack but the lefty from Florida watched several birdie putts roll over the edge of the hole or come up inches short.
"I couldn't get the speed of the greens down. I left them short then hit them long," he said. "I was frustrated. Who's not when you're playing this game for a living? That just comes with the territory."
Park moved into a share of the lead thanks, once again, to his putting. The Arizona State product has found his touch on the greens this week.
"When the putter is working it takes a lot of pressure off the other aspects of my game," he said. "I just need to get on the green and give myself an opportunity. I don't feel like I have to be super aggressive. I can be relaxed off the tee and I feel like I'm swinging freer."
Park's comfort zone was evident on the 552-yard 4th hole where he made eagle for the second straight day, this time rolling in a 60-foot, downhill double-breaker.
"There's a difference between putting bad and not making any putts," he said. "I was just not making any putts. I was lipping out just barely missing it. I feel really good over the putts and I feel like they're going to go in and they're actually going in."
The putts are also going in for Peters, who is T2 in that category this week and held it together on a day when his swing was out of control.
"I didn't know where the ball was going," he said after hitting only seven fairways and 11 greens. "I probably turned a 78 into a 68 today with the places I hit it. It was a grind. I could have easily played myself out of it. You can't win it on Saturday but I could have gotten into a position where I would have no chance on Sunday."
Instead, the former winner of the Big Break on the GOLF CHANNEL relied on a superb short game to bail him out of trouble time after time.
"There were so many momentum things today that I did that just kept my day going forward," he said. "It was one of those days that I'll look back on and be proud of it and how I hung in there."
Staten, Park and Peters will be paired together in Sunday's finale, each chasing their first career win on the Nationwide Tour.
• In anticipation of possible thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon, fourth-round tee times have been moved up. The final round will be played in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees. Times will run from 7:30 - 9:20 a.m. with an expected finish time of 2:00 p.m.
• Kyle Stanley finished birdie/eagle/birdie today for a back nine 5-under 30 and a 5-under 66 total. Stanley's eagle was a hole-in-one at the 111-yard 17th hole. Stanley is at 11-under 202 and tied for fourth place.
• David McKenzie posted a 7-under 64 to move into contention (T11). The 64 is the lowest round of the year for McKenzie, who had made only one cut in seven starts prior to this week.
• The toughest hole on the course through the first three rounds is the par-3 5th, which has played to a distance of 240, 224 and 215 yards respectively the first three days. The scoring average for the hole is 3.268, which currently makes it the hardest par-3 on the Tour thus far this year. The 8th hole at Carolina Country Club (BMW Charity Pro-Am) currently ranks No. 1 at 3.230.
• There are two players who made the cut that have University of Maryland connections and will be paired together for Sunday's final round:
Bobby MacWhinnie 71-68-71 -- 210 T55
George Bradford 73-66-71 -- 210 T55
• There are 57 players in the field this week that will be competing in various U.S. Open Sectional Qualifiers around the country on Monday. The majority of the total, 39 players, will be at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland (about 20 miles away from the tournament site).