It’s not going to be easy. Zach Johnson just pulled within a stroke of Brian Davis when he made a 10-footer for birdie at the 10th hole.
The steady Johnson hasn’t made a bogey in his last 40 holes. He’s bidding for his seventh PGA TOUR title while Davis is looking for his first.
Brian Davis continues to press forward – following what was only his second bogey of the week at the fifth hole with two straight birdies to gain a cushion.
The Englishman made a 12-footer at the sixth hole and a 6-footer at No. 7 to move two strokes ahead of Jeff Overton, Bryce Molder and Zach Johnson. Davis had gone 49 straight holes without a bogey.
Davis had a chance to win the Verizon Heritage earlier this year, losing in a playoff to Jim Furyk and calling a penalty on himself in the process. He is seeking his first PGA TOUR win.
Corey Pavin just made a 9-foot birdie putt at the 10th hole to move within a stroke of the lead at 16 under.
The 50-year-old Ryder Cup captain is 4 under for the day and hot on the heels of Zach Johnson, Brian Davis and Bryce Molder. Pavin is tied with Jeff Overton, Scott Verplank and Ben Crane.
Pavin won at Colonial in 1985 and ‘96.
Bryce Molder and Brian Davis both dressed for the occasion.
Paired together in the final group, Molder is wearing a bright red shirt while Davis’ is while with red insets across his shoulder. Think those won’t look good with the trademark red plaid jacket that goes to the winner of the Crowne Plaza Invitational?
Davis has birdied his first two holes to move to 18 under and into sole possession of the lead. He two-putted from 16 feet on the par 5 and tapped in from 16 inches at No. 2.
Molder two-putted from 30 feet at No. 1 to move to 17 under. He’s tied with Zach Johnson, who birdied Nos. 1 and 2.
Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin is making his presence felt early at Colonial.
The 50-year-old – who turned down a chance to play in the Senior PGA Championship this week – has birdied his first two holes to move to 14 under. He’s two strokes off the lead held by Brian Davis and Bryce Molder, who tee off in about 10 minutes.
Pavin made a 26-footer from the back fringe at the first hole, then added a 9-footer No. 2. The two-time Colonial champ is trying to win the tournament in the third straight decade.
A strategic, position-type golf course like Colonial would seem to be right down Zach Johnson's alley.
That said, he's only had one top-10 in the Crowne Plaza Invitational. But that could change on Sunday as he starts the final round one stroke off the lead held by Bryce Molder and Brian Davis.
"I think it is a good golf course for me," Johnson agreed Saturday. "I think it does require more of a trajectory control and more of a straight shot, nothing that's overly powerful. We have seen all sorts of champions here in the past, so I don't know. A lot of guys are hitting irons off the tee, too.
"With these bent grass greens, and very hot humid conditions at times, the greens are very receptive. ... and they are soft and rolling well. The ... humidity has added moisture to the fairways, so they're not releasing a whole lot. There is minimal wind. All of that compounded adds to pretty low scoring conditions which is very evident."
Johnson is finding fairways and greens with regularity this week, too. He ranks first in greens in regulation (missing just seven in the first three rounds) and second in fairways hit (hitting all but nine). His 87 putts, though, leave him tied for 67th in that category.
Johnson has had two bogey-free rounds this week -- including Saturday's 64, and he's made a total of 17 birdies and just two bogeys. His mechanics are obviously spot-on so Johnson says he is working on just trying to let things happen.
"I'm getting the putter in my hands a lot," Johnson said. "It gets frustrating because you give yourself so many opportunities and you miss some. I made two bogeys all week and they were three-putts. One from like five feet. My putting is fine. My ball-striking is obviously good."
Johnson is looking for his third win in Texas. His last of six victories came in 2009 when he successfully defended his title at the Valero Texas Open. On the other hand, the two men he is chasing are looking for their first PGA TOUR wins, but Johnson isn't taking anyone lightly.
"I've been in contention a fair number of times," Johnson said. "... I'm going to certainly rely on some of those feelings and memories, whether or not it helps me more than someone that hasn't won I have no idea.
"Sometimes a guy that is fighting for his first win is pretty lethal. I don't know if it's that big of an advantage, but I certainly think looking at my previous wins I always remembered what I was doing on Sunday with the other ones. So if I have a chance, great."
Ben Crane has made two eagles and an ace already this week. Now all that’s left is to see whether he can delight the home crowd with a victory on Sunday.
Crane, who lives in Westlake, Texas, about 40 miles away from Fort Worth, enters the final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at 14 under and two strokes off the lead held by Bryce Molder and Brian Davis.
And he got a big boost Saturday on the 17 th hole where he holed that pitching wedge from 142 yards for eagle. He walked to the green and retrieved the ball, then tossed it into the appreciative crowd for a souvenir.
“I just took dead aim and hit a beautiful shot and the crowd got a little louder and a little louder as it hit, and then all of a sudden they erupted and that was certainly a thrill,” Crane said.
Crane has already won once this season and he came to Colonial riding the momentum of consecutive top-10s, including a tie for fourth at THE PLAYERS Championship. But he says his goal on Sunday is simply to play his best.
“That’s not my goal to capture the championship,” Crane said. “My goal is just to do my best and certainly I sure hope I don't change my game plan. If I'm changing my game plan, I'm not doing the right thing. I'm not doing the thing I set out to do to make this process primary -- just to be able to relax and commit to each shot and just let them go.
“So often as golfers, we want a certain result or try to control this ball. And we think this golf ball has feelings, but the last I checked, it doesn't. Anyway, it's a crazy game. Was it Bobby Jones that said most of the time golf is a sport that's played on a field of 5 and a half inches right between your ears? I like that.”
Crane stayed in the moment so well back in January when he won the Farmers Insurance Open, he didn’t know he had won the tournament until his playing partner, Ryuji Imada congratulated him on the 72 nd hole. He’d like nothing better than to have that mindset on Sunday, too.
“That was great for me to be able to just not worry so much about where other people were at and just play,” Crane said. “Occasionally you might catch the glimpse of a leaderboard, but certainly I hope I don't do that and that I'm able to play free and just add them up at the end of the day.”
Crane is one of 17 players within six strokes of the lead. He says that logjam shouldn’t affect his concentration one way or another.
“If I'm doing what I set out to do, it won't be a factor,” Crane said. “So again I'm not trying to achieve a result, I'm just trying to do my best.”
It’s not a Presidents Cup year, but there is a distinct international flavor to the PGA TOUR right now.
The last four winners have come from Northern Ireland (Rory McIlroy at the Quail Hollow Championship), South Africa (Tim Clark at THE PLAYERS) and Australia (Adam Scott at the Valero Texas Open and Jason Day at the HP Byron Nelson Championship).
The leaderboard at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, though, has a decidedly American flavor with eight of the top nine players hailing from the United States.
The one who doesn’t? That’s Brian Davis, a transplanted Brit who lives in Orlando, and is tied for the lead with Bryce Molder at 16 under.
Brian Davis birdied the 17th and parred the 18th to finish with a 65 -- his third consecutive round of 65 or lower -- to share the lead with Bryce Molder, who is playing the 18th.
Neither Molder or Davis have won on the PGA TOUR in 267 combined starts on TOUR.
The second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational is complete with Bryce Molder leading after shooting a career-low 62 on Friday. He’s one stroke ahead of Jason Bohn and two up on Brian Davis and Kris Blanks.
Molder has held the 36-hole lead twice already this year, eventually finishing tied for 10th at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and tied for eighth at the Shell Houston Open. The former Georgia Tech All-American is bidding for his first TOUR win and trying to become the sixth player to win at Colonial in his debut.
Molder isn’t the only one seeking that breakthrough win. Four of the top six players on the leaderboard and five of the top 10 are hoping to make the Crowne Plaza Invitational their first TOUR victory.
A total of 76 pros survived the cut which came at 2 under and was the lowest in the tournament’s 63-year history. Among the notables who won’t be playing the weekend are Masters champion Phil Mickelson and reigning PGA champ Y.E. Yang, as well as former major champs Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Trevor Immelman, David Duval and Steve Elkington.