Ryan Palmer is still over par -- and still in the lead. That’s how tough the hot, windy conditions have been at TPC Four Seasons here in the third round.
Palmer was by by two, but his second bogey of the day, this one on the 14th, dropped him back to 7 under for the week and 1 over on the round.
He’s not the only one struggling, though.
Sergio Garcia is 2 over and alone in second. After that? There’s some distance with four players currently at 3 under for the week.
IRVING, Texas -- Texas native Ryan Palmer is hanging tough in windy conditions while local favorite, teenage amateur Jordan Spieth, is dropping back.
Although Palmer is having trouble finding fairways -- he hit just two of his first 10 on Saturday -- he's even par on his round and 8 under for the tournament. That gives him a two-shot lead over playing partner Sergio Garcia, who suffered two bogeys on his front nine and has yet to post a birdie today.
Nick Watney, Ryuji Imada and Joe Ogilvie are tied for third at 4 under.
Spieth, the 17-year-old from Dallas, has had a rollercoaster round that includes two double bogeys and three bogeys. He's been able to minimize some of the damage with four brides, but he's still 3 over on his round.
Spieth's high school graduation starts at 5 p.m. ET. He's on the 17th hole now, so he likely will not miss much of the ceremony.
Just eight sub-par rounds have been posted thus far, with Arjun Atwal's 67 the low round in the clubhouse.
Just how difficult has the scoring been on a hot, windy day outside Dallas? Well, the overnight leaders have gone backwards and one of them, Ryan Palmer, still leads.
Palmer is 1 over through nine holes and leads by one over Sergio Garcia, who made the turn in 2 over to fall to 6 under.
After that there’s a little separation with three players, including Jeff Overton, at 4 under.
The lowest round in the clubhouse so far? A 67 by Arjun Atwal, who is also 3 under for the tournament.
In all, just 19 players are under par for the week at the moment.
Take away the second round and Jeff Overton would be 9 under. Of course you can’t do that, but Overton has nonetheless found a way to recover from his 74.
Through his first nine holes on Saturday, Overton is 3 under and as a result has moved back into contention just two shots back.
The two players Overton is chasing? Ryan Palmer and Sergio Garcia, both of whom are 1 over through six holes.
As for Jordan Spieth, the 17-year-old high school senior who began the day five shots back? He raced out of the tee box with birdies on each of his first two holes, but he gave those back on the fourth hole with a double bogey. Spieth then made another bogey on the par-4 ninth to make the turn in 1 over on the day.
The good news for Spieth, of course, is that the leaders have gone backwards as well and he’s still just five shots back.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas – The player who can thrive the best in windy conditions should have a huge advantage in Saturday’s third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Wind gusts from the south of up to 35 mph are expected in the afternoon, which should make things tricky for the leaders.
“There are going to be some tough moments,” said second-round co-leader Sergio Garcia, who will tee off at 1:15 p.m. ET in the final group with the other co-leader, Ryan Palmer.
Garcia, the 2004 champion of this event, has shown he can manage his game in the wind.
Palmer is a Texas native and lives in the area, but he has never enjoyed much success in PGA TOUR events in his home state. Prior to this week, he had missed the cut in six of his previous seven starts at TPC Four Seasons Resort.
But he’s letting his caddie, James Edmondson, decide on club selection and target off the tee this week, allowing Palmer to swing with an uncluttered mind. So far it’s working.
“He points and I just pull the trigger,” Palmer told the PGA TOUR Network prior to teeing off Saturday. But with the winds, Palmer added, “He’ll have his work cut out for him today.”
Palmer and Garcia have never been paired together prior to Saturday.
“There’s going to be quite a few people out there,” Palmer said. “It’s going to be a fun day.”
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- At one point during Friday's second round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Ryan Palmer let his mind drift. With a commanding lead at that point, he was tempted to look ahead to Sunday. His parents are coming to town, and Palmer thought about how great it would be to win while they were in attendance.
Then he caught himself.
"Wait a minute," Palmer said. "This shot. I need to hit this shot."
No worries. Palmer hit plenty of good shots Friday en route to a 3-under 67 that left him at 8 under for the tournament. When he walked off the final green Friday, he had a four-shot lead, although the afternoon group had just begun to tee off.
For the second consecutive day, he let his caddie James Edmondson call the shots on the tee box with club and target selection. Palmer said there was really only one time Friday in which he wondered about Edmondson's club choice -- at the par-4 18th hole.
Palmer normally hits driver. Edmondson had him use a 5-wood.
"What am I going to do, hit 5-wood, 5-wood?" Palmer asked.
Said Edmondson: "Let's practice for the British Open. Hit the 5-wood hard."
So Palmer did, finding the middle of the fairway. He then hit 5-iron to 25 feet for an easy two-putt par.
Joked Palmer: "He's playing steady golf, too."
Palmer said he is getting more comfortable with that approach, which was implemented for this week's event.
"I keep surprising myself how calm I am when it's that way," Palmer said. "You wonder why don't you do it every week ...
"This is a golf course that I've struggled on so it's nice to not to think about it, just get up and hit the shot, and if I don't hit the shots it's on me. So it's nice to be free swinging like that."
With good vibes off the tee, Palmer also wants to make sure he keeps his short game in order. He said he's been "fighting my chipping for a while," so he spent an hour with coach Randy Smith on Thursday night after his first-round 65, working strictly on the short game.
His ball-striking certainly has been tremendous this week. He was getting so close with his approach shots that he shot the 67 on Friday without needing to make a putt longer than nine feet. In fact, for the first 36 holes, he's only needed to make one putt longer than 10 feet.
"It just shows how solid I'm hitting the golf ball," said Palmer, who could move up to 14th in the FedExCup standings should he win. "... I'm not making that many long ones, but I'm not having that many as well. So that's good."
Now the challenge for Palmer is to continue his steady play for another 36 holes. He said he's comfortable when he's at or near the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend.
"I can look back on when I've been in this position, I've come out on top or close," he said.
That’s good news for Palmer. Perhaps bad news for everybody else in the field.
IRVING, Texas – Joe Ogilvie has birdied three consecutive holes and is now 7 under for the tournament, just one shot off the lead held by Ryan Palmer.
Palmer did lead by five shots at one point before Ogilvie heated up. Palmer also has suffered his first bogey at the day, at the par-4 15th. He’s now 3 under on his round and 8 under overall.
Ogilvie shot a 66 on Thursday and had a rollercoaster opening nine Friday. He’s 3 under for his round through 13 holes.
Ryuji Imada has had a productive morning. With one hole left in his round, Imada is 4 under for the day and 5 under overall. He’s on pace to shoot his lowest score on TOUR since January.
Teenage amateur Jordan Spieth continues to stay above the cut line. He’s 2 under through his first 10 holes and 3 under for the tournament. With half the field still yet to tee off in the second round, the projected cut line is 1 over.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- As Ryan Palmer stood on each tee during Thursday's first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, he didn't think about what club to pull from his bag. Or what part of the fairway to aim at. Or where he should stand on the tee box.
He only had one goal: Take orders. From his caddie.
In the latest example that an uncluttered mind is a productive one, Palmer produced his lowest round on TOUR in four months, a 5-under 65, in large part because he handed over the strategic decisions to caddie James Edmondson at each tee.
"All I did is get on each tee and waited until he told me what to do," said Palmer, who’s in solo second, one shot off the 18-hole lead held by Jeff Overton. "He told me what side of the tee box to get on, and what side he wanted me to be on, what target he wanted me to hit, and it was my job to hit the shot.
"I think there is something there because I was really relaxed and calm and at ease. It came easy."
This is the first round that Palmer has used this strategy. Although he had played steadier in recent months -- his usual track record is one good tournament followed by a handful of poor ones -- Palmer has never played well at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. In seven previous starts, he had made just one cut.
So during a meeting Palmer had with Edmondson and coach Randy Smith a few days ago, the three decided that the timing was perfect for a new strategy. Why not do something different at a course that has been a nemesis for him?
"We pulled a page out of the Phil Mickelson book, and I gave James the reigns," Palmer said.
Palmer isn't sure that he would have resorted to new tricks had he been playing a course he's had success on. But the sight lines at the TPC Four Seasons aren't to his liking. With Edmondson calling the shots, Palmer didn't worry about such things. He just teed it up and swung. (The greens, however, remain under Palmer's domain.)
"It was the matter of getting over the fear of the tee shots and picturing shots where he wanted me to go," Palmer said. "I never thought about it. I never saw anything."
Palmer said there were only a couple of instances Thursday in which he had to grit his teeth while taking orders from Edmondson.
At 18, he thought the tee shot was playing shorter, and wondered whether the better play was to try to hit the wider portion of the fairway past the water.
Then at the 528-yard par-4 third -- the longest par 4 on TOUR -- Edmondson wanted Palmer to hit 3-wood, but Palmer was thinking was 5-wood. Palmer opted for the 3-wood and landed his tee shot in perfect position between the two bunkers (alas, he still took bogey after his approach shot came up short of the green).
"Those were the two times I thought about it for a minute, going, I'm not sure about this," Palmer said. "But that was my goal -- whatever he said, I was going to hit it, just not even think about it."
Making the strategy a little easier to carry out is the fact that Palmer and Edmondson have know each other since high school. They traveled together as competitors on the Hooters Tour for 18 months. Eventually, Palmer asked Edmondson to caddie for him.
That was eight years ago. Given the rash of caddie changes among notable players in recent weeks, Palmer is glad to have a friend on his bag.
"We have never really had it out," he said, "and when we do, we have it our right there in the parking lot. It's been maybe two or three times we've had it out, so I'm very fortunate to have something like that."
The strategy obviously worked on Thursday, and Palmer is committed to using it the rest of the tournament. But will the strategy continue beyond this week, say at next month's U.S. Open? He's not saying.
"You know what? When we get to the golf course we'll see," Palmer said, "but if this keeps me this loose and free and not thinking as much, I'll put his name on the bag."
Masters hangover? Not for Jhonattan Vegas. The rookie missed the cut in his first trip to Augusta National -- he’s actually missed his last three cuts -- but that doesn’t seem to be affecting him so far at TPC San Antonio, where he’s 2 under through his first 12 holes and near the top of the leaderboard.
In all, there are five players in this week’s field who finished in the top 10 at the Masters -- defending champion Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera, Bo Van Pelt and Ryan Palmer.
Scott, Ogilvy and Cabrera will play together through the first two rounds later this afternoon.
Speaking of Cabrera, he led the Masters in total driving. If he has another week like that at TPC San Antonio he should be in contention given the narrow fairways there.
HUMBLE, Texas -- Seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens is no stranger to pro-ams. He is, however, new to being a caddie.
He served as Ryan Palmer's looper as part of the Caddy for a Cure program and, well, let's just say he might be a better player.
Palmer chuckled, noting that, according to his PGA TOUR caddie James Edmonson, Clemens pulled the wrong club three times and didn't wash the ball and … well, you get the idea.
"We played together at the (Bob) Hope,'' Palmer said. "He's a fun guy to be around. But we did have to give him a hard time.''
Ironically, one thing that didn't come up was the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry. Palmer is an Aggie; Clemens a Longhorn. "We really didn't talk Aggies-Longhorns. We talked baseball and golf,'' Palmer said.
As for basketball? Palmer caught the last three minutes of the Lady Aggies' win over Baylor and, yes, he's pulling for them in the women's Final Four. "I know (coach) Gary Blair a little,'' he said. "It's neat to see. First time in school history." -- Melanie Hauser