Uihlein takes 54-hole lead at LECOM Suncoast Classic
February 15, 2020
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- February 15, 2020
- Uihlein fired a third-round 66 to grab the 54-hole lead at Lakewood National. (Kevin Prise/PGATOUR.COM)
LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Peter Uihlein sunk a 15-foot birdie putt at the last Saturday to cap off a third-round 66 and move to 18-under overall at the LECOM Suncoast Classic. Andrew Novak and Jack Maguire sit one shot back at 17-under, while four others are two strokes back at 15-under 201 at Lakewood National Golf Club.
“It’s always good getting in contention,” said Uihlein, who is going for his first Korn Ferry Tour win since the 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. “It’s been a while for me. I had a tough year last year so it’s nice to get in contention and see how I hold up.”
The 30-year-old, who is making his first start on the Korn Ferry Tour this season, tallied three consecutive birdies on Nos. 5-7 before a bogey at the par-4 eighth. He carded a bogey-free 32 on the back nine to emerge on top after 54 holes.
“It was a good day other than the sloppy three-putt on No. 8,” he said. “Other than that I was pretty efficient again. … I’ve been feeling good. Ultimately, I’m just trying to stay out of my own way out there. I’ve been driving it well and putting it well. Just going from there.”
Uihlein will be joined Sunday in the final group at Lakewood National Golf Club by Novak and Maguire, who shot 6-under and 5-under, respectively, to remain in contention. Novak birdied five of his first six holes, with the lone blemish coming on a triple bogey at the par-4 second, when his approach shot went over the green and into a hazard. It was the only misstep of the day for the Wofford College product, who added four birdies on the back nine en route to a third-round 66.
“I handled that triple as well as I’ve ever handled one before, maybe better,” Novak said. “I was just locked in and got into a good zone with Jeff [his caddie]. We were locked in for the rest of the day.”
“We just had the mindset that we needed to get to business,” he added. “Let’s lock in and let’s go make some birdies. There are so many birdies out here that you’re never out of it.”
Maguire, who is staying at his home in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida, this week, birdied three of his last five holes to join Uihlein and Novak in the final grouping. His lone bogey of the day came at the par-5 sixth.
“The round started off a little slow,” he said. “I definitely turned it on during the back nine and made some birdies. I hit some good shots on the par-4s on the back and there on No. 17, which definitely turned it around. The tee ball was shaky all day but my putter and irons were working.”
Chandler Blanchet, Greyson Sigg, Alex Chiarella and Robert Garrigus all sit three shots back at 15-under. Blanchet, a Monday qualifier who is making his Korn Ferry Tour debut, was one of four players to card a 65, the low round of the day.
“I’ve been playing good this year and I played pretty well last year so I’ve had good momentum going,” said Blanchet, who won the Sao Paulo Championship last season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. “I was excited to get an opportunity out here. Everything has kind of come together and I’ve been playing really well this week.”
Blanchet began his day with a birdie at the first, then added five more over a six-hole stretch beginning at the par-5 sixth. He closed with one final 20-foot birdie at the 17th. The 25-year-old will enter the final round on a run of 43 consecutive holes without a bogey.
“Obviously Monday (qualifying) was one of the big goals for this early part of the season, just to get an early opportunity,” he said. “To make a cut was also the next thing. Obviously to be up in contention and have a chance tomorrow is huge. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing.”
Final-round tee times will run from 7:46 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. off the first tee on Sunday at Lakewood National Golf Club.