Austin hoping hot putter lasts a little longer

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Austin has never won a Nationwide Tour event.
April 28, 2012
Anne Szeker, PGATOUR.COM producer

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Woody Austin's season so far has been anything but consistent -- and he'll be the first one to tell you that.

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The 48-year-old shot an 8-under 64 Saturday to tie the tournament record and move into a share of the lead at the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Company.

"It reminds me of a guy from about 20 years ago," he said.

Just two days ago, Austin shot 74 on the same course in a round where he was "doing everything wrong."

"It seems to be old man: slow start and then good finish," he said. "I'm trying to remember how to play golf again. I'm getting better."

Rounds of 66 and 64 in the last two are certainly better.

"Those are the two lowest rounds I've shot in probably five years and I shot them back to back," he said, and he wasn't really exaggerating. The last time he shot 64 at a PGA TOUR event was in 2007.

For much of this year, Austin has just been trying to find consistency. He has yet to make a cut on the PGA TOUR in four starts and has a T5 (Chitimacha Louisiana Open) and T39 (TPC Stonebrae Championship) on the Nationwide Tour.

In his round of 64 Saturday, he hit 12 of 14 fairways (85.7%) and 15 of 18 greens (83.3%) with only 26 putts. His stats have improved each day -- in his first round he hit only seven fairways. Yet, he is quick to refer to his golf game as "not very solid on a consistent basis."

His first round wasn't great, but he did birdie two of his last three holes. Maybe a source of momentum? Friday he went on to card just one bogey and seven birdies.

Saturday's front nine didn't look like anything special, with bogeys on 4 and 9, where he knocked his tee shot into a fairway bunker. But on the back, he really got things going. He birdied 10 and eagled 11.

"I made a putt from about 30 feet for eagle," he said. "That was one that stood out. It was moving too, so it was a good thing it hit the hole. Those are putts I haven't made in a while, so it's just nice to see them go in."

Austin credits a lot of his scorecard to his flatstick.

"It just goes to show when you can putt like some people that do it every day, it's kind of fun," he said. "Now I know why Brad Faxon smiles a lot."

And while the putts dropping Saturday made him feel better, he knows he still has work to do. Austin has never won on the Nationwide Tour, though he does have a handful of runner-up finishes, and his last PGA TOUR win was the 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship.

He enters Sunday tied for the lead with the Nationwide Tour's longest driver, Luke List, at the longest track on the schedule.

"The key is you have to make putts. I've putted better in the last two rounds than I have in a long time," he said. "I need to play a little better. I played good, but I'm still not consistent like I used to be.

"If I could putt like that for any stretch of time, god, I'd be a happy camper," he said.

In the final round, he'll see can keep that stretch going for just a little longer.

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