By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- Tom Gillis' approach to Sunday's final round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship?
Be as boring as possible.
The 44-year-old Gillis, seeking his first PGA TOUR win, will start the day just two shots off the lead held by Keegan Bradley. He's an unlikely contender this week, having missed the cut in his five previous starts and failing to post a top-20 finish in 11 starts.
But he's in solo third now and will go with the same gameplan on Sunday that has carried him for the first three rounds at TPC Four Seasons Resort.
"Just like I have all week, I've tried to make it as boring as I can, hit it in the center of the green and even if it's 25-, 30-feet, have a roll at it and go from there," Gillis said.
"Just make it very, very boring would be my way of going about it tomorrow."
Gillis was anything but boring on the 18th hole Saturday when he blasted out of a greenside bunker and into the cup for an unlikely birdie. When Bradley made bogey on the hole, Gillis climbed to within two shots of the lead at 11 under.
He knows it will be tough to catch Bradley, but perhaps his calm, boring approach will pay off.
"The key tomorrow is to give yourself a lot of opportunities and see if you can probably put a good one on it," he said. "Keegan is playing pretty good, but you got to play 'em all, see how it shakes out."
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
IRVING, Texas -- Keegan Bradley was a perfect 3-for-3 from greenside bunkers but the shot he faced at the 17th hole was, by far, the most difficult at the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Saturday.
Bradley was in the front left bunker, playing to a back hole location, 87 feet away. Bradley walked down into the bunker and repeatedly practiced a very vertical swing. He bent his knees, generated full clubhead speed and splashed the ball out of the bunker. It landed some 10 feet beyond the cup, sat for just a fraction of a second and then, with an audible “whiz,” the ball spun down the hill like somebody had pulled the string on a top.
The gallery roared as the ball backed up until halting 3 feet below the cup. Bradley went on to par the hole and later said, “that was a Keegan Bradley shot. (Phil) Mickelson can learn from me now.”
Putting: Sang-Moon Bae took just 26 putts in the third round but that total included a miss from 31 inches at the fifth hole. It follows a trend. Bae is ranked 31st in strokes gained-putting, a very respectable total. However, that ranking also includes some puzzling numbers. Bae is 161st in three-putt avoidance and ranks 146th on 3-foot putts. He is also 177th on TOUR from 5 feet. Even more puzzling, Bae leads the TOUR making 82 percent from 8 feet. Very rarely do you find so much inconsistency from someone who ranks so highly in strokes gained-putting.
Par 5s: Bradley carries a one-stroke lead into the final round and he can thank his play on par 5s for that lead. There are only two par 5s on the TPC Four Seasons course. Bradley has played them a total of six times through three rounds and he is 7 under on those holes. He has birdied each of the par 5s each round, with the exception of the seventh hole. Bradley eagled the seventh on Thursday.
Par 3s: The par 3s showed their teeth on Saturday. In the first two rounds, only once had a par 3 been stretched in excess of 200 yards and that came at the second on Friday with the hole placed 214 yards from the tee. PGA TOUR officials used the back tees on Saturday. The second hole played 223 yards, the fifth was 168, the 13th checked in at 183 and the 17th hole measured 203 yards. With swirling winds, club selection was very difficult those par 3s.
Plodder: Jimmy Johnson usually caddies for Steve Stricker but with Sticker’s limited schedule, Johnson has worked for Harris English at times this year and is impressed. He watched English play his third round and described the Georgia graduate as “a plodder with fire.” What a wonderful description of English who is rapidly gaining the reputation as a “player to watch” on the PGA TOUR. Johnson will caddie for English at next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Putting: Tom Gillis is having an average putting year but a great week on the greens. He ranks 101st in strokes gained-putting this season but is much better at TPC Four Seasons. Gillis has had putting rounds of 28-24-23 to lead the tournament and ranks first this week in strokes gained-putting. He is also enjoying a great week of bunker play. Gillis is 6-for-6 out of the sand, including a hole-out from 46 feet for birdie on the 18th.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Keegan Bradley can't seem to figure out the 18th hole at TPC Four Seasons Resort (Pennington/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- Keegan Bradley maintained the lead on a hot, humid Saturday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and will go into Sunday's final round seeking his second title at TPC Four Seasons Resort in three years.
Bradley shot a third-round 2-under 68, putting him at 13 under for the tournament, one shot ahead of Sang-Moon Bae and two up on Tom Gillis.
"One of the most solid rounds of the year considering all that was going on," Bradley said, referencing the windy conditions.
Bradley will be paired with Bae in the final group on Sunday. Tee time is 1:30 p.m. ET.
"One shot behind Keegan," Bae said. "Looking forward to tomorrow."
Bradley, who won here in a playoff against Ryan Palmer in 2011, is looking to become just the third player in tournament history to go wire-to-wire, and the first to do so since Tom Watson in 1980.
But his lead was reduced on Saturday. He had led by three shots on Thursday after shooting a course-record 10-under 60, and kept that three-shot lead after shooting 69 on Friday.
And if the tournament comes down to the 18th hole, Bradley could be in trouble.
For the third consecutive day, Bradley hit an errant tee shot at the 18th, resulting in his third bogey at the hole this week.
In the first two rounds, Bradley avoided water on the left by bailing out to the right. On Saturday, taking a more aggressive line, his ball barely stay out of the water but landed behind a boulder, forcing him to chip back out to the fairway.
"I thought it was in the water," Bradley said. "But another foot to the right and I'm actually almost in the fairway. So it could have gone eiither way."
His third shot landed short of the green, but he nearly holed his fourth shot with his putter.
Bae shot his third consecutive 66 and is at 12 under.
Gillis was bogey-free for 16 holes, stumbled at the 17, but rebounded by holing his bunker shot for birdie at the 18th to shoot 67.
"That'll make dinner taste a little bit better, that's for sure," Gillis said.
Scott Piercy is in solo fourth at 10 under. Gary Woodland, Harris English, John Huh and Charl Schwartzel at tied for fifth at 8 under.
Watch Scott Piercy drain a putt from 45 feet on the 17th hole Saturday.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- During an eight-hole stretch in Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Scott Piercy rolled in two putts from outside 45 feet, and another from outside 30 feet.
Piercy hasn't sank a bunch of long-distance putts this year -- he ranks tied for 94th on the PGA TOUR in average distance of putts made -- but holing those three on Saturday came at an opportune time, since Piercy moved into sniffing distance of Keegan Bradley's lead entering the final round.
Piercy is at 10 under, three shots off the pace, and will play in the next-to-last group with Tom Gillis.
"It's not often you make a couple of long ones," Piercy said. "When the putter starts going you start making the short ones first. It's hard to hit it close at this golf course with this wind and these conditions, so you have to put it on the green and putt well.
"Today my long putts went in."
Thirteen times in the ShotLink era have players rolled in two putts from 45 feet or longer in the same round. Piercy has done it three of those times.
Piercy entered this week with little momentum. He had missed the cut in four of his five previous starts and had just two rounds in the 60s since he finished third at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"My ball striking hasn't been at a point to be in contention," Piercy said. "So I think the ball striking is starting to come around, looks like the putter warmed up a little bit and going to play steady golf tomorrow and take my birdies where I can get 'em and eliminate the bad stuff."
SCOTT PIERCY DIALS LONG DISTANCE IN RD. 3
|Hole||Par||Length of Piercy's putt|
|10||4||Made 45 feet, 2 inch putt for birdie|
|12||4||Made 30 feet, 3 inch putt for birdie|
|17||3||Made 45 feet, 5 inch putt for birdie|
IRVING, Texas -- Tom Gillis holed his bunker shot at the 18th hole in Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
That finished off a 3-under 67 for Gillis, who is now at 11 under for the tournament, two shots behind tournament leader Keegan Bradley.
Gillis goes into Sunday's final round seeking his first PGA TOUR win.
IRVING, Texas -- John Huh holed out from 162 yards with his approach shot at the par-4 14th for eagle during Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
It's the first eagle at that hole since 2006.
Huh is now 7 under for the tournament through 16 holes.
IRVING, Texas -- Keegan Bradley rolled in a 34-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th to move to 13 under during Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Bradley led by two strokes over Tom Gillis through 12 holes.
WATCH MORE LONG PUTTS
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- In his first 12 holes of Saturday's third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Tom Gillis has needed just 13 putts.
Yest, that's a pretty good ratio.
Gillis has one-putted nine greens, and holed out from the fringe at the par-4 eighth for par.
In only two of his first 12 holes has he needed two putts.
Gillis entered the third round leading the field in strokes gained-putting.
A bogey-free 3 under on his round, Gillis is currently at 11 under for the tournament, two shots behind leader Keegan Bradley.