Four players share lead after 54 holes in MarylandMay 24, 2008
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff
MITCHELLVILLE, Md. -- Saturday is called "moving day" in professional golf, but the third round at the Melwood Prince George's County Open more closely resembled Friday afternoon traffic on the Beltway around Washington D.C. -- a few folks inching forward early on, but everyone else pretty much stuck right where they started.
Inside the Numbers 54-Hole Leaderboard Player Score T1. David Mathis 207 -9 T1. Chad Ginn 207 -9 T1. Matt Weibring 207 -9 T1. Jeff Klauk 207 -9 T5. Greg Chalmers 208 -8 T5. Gary Christian 208 -8 T5. Ricky Barnes 208 -8 T5. David Hearn 208 -8 T9. Craig Bowden 209 -7 T9. Tripp Isenhour 209 -7 T9. Bill Lunde 209 -7 T9. Scott Gutschewski 209 -7
When the final groups finished at The Country Club at Woodmore, a check of the leeaderboard found a four-way tie for first place after 54 holes, four players one shot back and another four only two behind.
David Mathis, still in high gear after winning last week's BMW Charity Pro-Am, quickly motored to the top with a 6-under 66, which left him at 9-under 207. He was done early and out the door by the time the rest of the field got jammed together.
Matt Weibring was 11 under after an eagle at the par-5 sixth, but stumbled with two bogeys on his final three holes, posting a 1-under 71 for a share of the lead with Mathis, his playing partner in the final group last week in Greenville, S.C.
Chad Ginn was relatively accident-free on his way to an even-par 72 that kept him at 9 under and gave him a piece of the 54-hole lead for the first time in his professional career. First- and second-round leader Jeff Klauk crisscrossed several lanes with a birdie-bogey-double bogey-birdie finish on the last four holes to round out the quartet of leaders.
"It'll be a shootout," said Weibring of Sunday's chase for the $117,000 first-place check. "It's fun playing in the lead or near it. It's a lot more fun than packing your bags on Friday."
At least those that missed the cut didn't get stuck in Saturday's holiday traffic.
Klauk held a one-shot lead over Ginn and Open Qualifier Andy Bare (75-210) to begin the day and started with a birdie at No. 1 and added a second at No. 6. The second birdie inched Klauk to the front at 12 under par.
A golf course that slowly firmed up in the afternoon winds suddenly halted progress of everyone except Mathis and Greg Chalmers (65-208), who was long gone by the time the main group slowed to a halt.
"There were some tough pins out there and when the wind started blowing, the balls that were stopping on the greens were now releasing," said Klauk, who was also victimized by a couple of three-putt bogeys. "It should be pretty exciting tomorrow."
The 30-year-old Floridian had some excitement of his own on the closing hole, a 564-yard dogleg-left par 5. His tee shot hit a tree down the left side and instead of going left into the water, Klauk's ball dropped onto dry ground.
"I had a couple of mistakes on 16 and 17. You're going to have them," said Klauk of his bogey and double bogey that cost him the outright lead. "It's unfortunate they came at that time. I definitely got a lucky break on 18."
Klauk laid up from the heavy rough, hit a 9-iron to 18 feet and then canned a slick, downhill putt for a round of 73 and at least a share of the lead he'd held since Thursday's opening 64.
"I looked up and saw I was tied for first and I didn't believe it," said Ginn, who went 41 holes this week before finally making a bogey. "I thought somebody would be 12 or 13 under. The way scores were for the first couple days, anyone can go out and shoot 5, 6 or 7 under. It's going to be interesting because a lot of guys have a shot at it."
Weibring, who will be in the next-to-last instead of the final pairing where he's been the past two weeks, figures the final round won't be a repeat of Saturday's play.
"Whoever wins is going to have to shoot 4 or 5 under at least," he said. "It won't happen two days in a row like this. Six or 7 under is out there."
Saturday's scoring average was 72.591.