Bettencourt, La'Cassie share lead at Cox Classic

August 23, 2013
By Royce Thompson, Tour staff

OMAHA, Neb. – Matt Bettencourt was so relaxed in round three that he was caught dozing off while waiting to tee off on No. 16 at Champions Run on Saturday afternoon. The PGA TOUR veteran recorded seven birdies in the round to post a six-under 66 and take a share of the lead heading into the final round of the Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha.

Paired with Bettencourt was Bronson La’Cassie, who also shot 66 that included a chip-in for eagle on the par-5 17th.

John Peterson, who played alongside the co-leaders in round three, shot 66 and is one-stroke back.

Michael Putnam (65) and Andrew Loupe (67) share fourth place two off the pace.

Bettencourt relied on his driver to set him up with plenty of chances as the wind really picked up in the afternoon.

“You just have to be patient,” he said. “As long as you’re driving the ball well you’re going to get your opportunities.”

Bettencourt is in a curious position this week. He is eligible to play in the Tour Finals because he finished inside the top 200 on The FedExCup Points list. A win tomorrow would guarantee him one of the 25 TOUR cards awarded for next season, however Bettencourt isn’t really focused on the outcome.

“I really don’t think about that,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.”

Bettencourt has plenty of experience playing late on Sunday’s winning twice on the Tour and once on the PGA TOUR. The pressure of possibly regaining his card does not register for Bettencourt; he believes that a good round tomorrow will take care of that.

“I've been real fortunate to win on the PGA TOUR and win out here,” he said. “At the end of the day if you’re playing well enough you’re going to get your TOUR card.”

La’Cassie was consistent Saturday afternoon hitting 15 greens in regulation and recording four birdies and an eagle in the third round. La’Cassie came to the 17th one behind

Bettencourt and after an eagle chip from 20 yards away found the bottom of the cup he had a brief stint in sole possession of the lead. Shortly after Bettencourt would covert a two putt birdie and take a share of the lead heading into the 18th.

He then hit what he thought was his best shot of the day, a 5-iron from 172 yards up the hill into the wind to about 15 feet.

Even though he did not convert the birdie effort it is those shots that will help him with the pressure of being in contention in the final round. The Australian has never played in the final group on Sunday in any of his previous 72 starts on the Tour.

This is the closest La’Cassie has come to possibly earning his TOUR card. He started the week 33rd on the Regular Season money list and is fully aware of what a victory on Sunday would mean to his future.

“Playing the PGA TOUR is why you play this Tour,” he said “And getting my first win out here would be nice.”

Third-Round Notes:

-- Sunday’s play will be in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees starting at 8:00 a.m. with an expected finish time of 3:00 p.m. CT.

-- Miguel Angel Carballo came in to this week with one goal in mind, earning a PGA TOUR card for the 2013-14 season.

“My goal coming into the week was to finish in the top 10,’ he said. “If I do that then I know for sure I will have a spot on the PGA TOUR.”
Carballo is currently 29th on the money list but a 65 on Saturday with the wind picking up puts him in a tie for seventh heading into Sunday. With several players currently inside the top 25 missing the cut Carballo has a great chance to reach his goal for the week.

-- Michael Putnam’s 65 on Saturday may not tell the full story of how bad he wants to finish the Regular Season No. 1 on the money list. Putnam walked off of No. 9, his 18th hole, on Friday afternoon and literally passed out in the scoring trailer. He had been vomiting and feeling sick since before his second round started.

“I felt bad in the morning, I knew something wasn’t right,” he said. “If I would have had to play for 30 more minutes there is no way I would have made it.”

Putnam did make it, carding a 66 on Friday and following that up with a stellar round on Saturday. He currently sits in a tie for fourth and knows that only Ben Martin, who is in a tie for 57th, can catch him. Despite the large margin between the two in the standings Putnam is only concerned with himself and ‘controlling what he can control’.

-- This is the final week for players to get into the top-75 on the money list and qualify for the four events of the Tour Finals. Here is how the “bubble” boys have fared through the opening 36 holes:

-- Those in the top-25 who did not play this week:
#7 Mark Anderson
#8 Alex Aragon
#9 Tim Wilkinson
#15 Benjamin Alvarado
#18 Brendon Todd

-- The 315-yard, 9th hole continues to be an easy mark for the field. The driveable par-4, which has been the easiest par-4 on the Tour for the past seven consecutive years, is currently yielding a scoring average of 3.503. There have been a total of 11 eagles through three rounds. There were a total of 18 eagles on that hole in both 2007 and 2008, the most in any single year.

-- Players with eagle-2s at the par-4, 9th hole:
R1 – Andrew Loupe, Hudson Swafford, Kent Jones, Todd Demsey
R2 –Wes Roach, Manuel Villegas, Randall Hutchison, Ryan Spears, Jamie Lovemark, Derek Fathauer
R3 – Fernando Mechereffe

-- The Tour heads east next week for the first of the four Finals events. The inaugural Hotel Fitness Championship will be played at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind. August 26-September 1.

Course statistics for the week
  Front (35)
Back (36) Total (71)
Round 1 34.179 35.218 69.697
Round 2 34.755 35.212 69.967
Round 3 34.308 35.123 69.431