Aussie Buckle takes 54-hole lead in Louisiana

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Andrew Buckle is hoping to win for the second time on the Nationwide Tour.
March 27, 2010
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

BROUSSARD, La. -- Australian Andrew Buckle had no idea he was in first place after Saturday's third round of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Shortly after closing out a 6-under 65 with a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole, a greenside announcer let the gallery know that Buckle was the clubhouse leader at 10-under par.


"I had no idea what was going on," said Buckle. "It was pretty funny."

It's hard to blame Buckle for not paying attention to leaderboards. The 27-year-old from Brisbane was 3-over par after four holes in Thursday's opener and has been slowly working his way back into contention.

"I had a couple of weeks off and I didn't play too bad, I just got off to a bad start," he said of a first-round 74 that left him T100. "It can always get away from you but you can't think like that. There are a lot of holes left. You've just go to keep playing. Anything can happen."

Indeed. Buckle had nine birdies and an eagle en route to a 7-under 64 on Friday and then added seven more birdies during his round Saturday, which he finished some 90 minutes in front of the final pairing.

"You know you have to shoot a low score to get up towards the leaders," he said. "A windy day like this, if you play well you can certainly pick up some spots."

Buckle needed only 24 putts for the second straight day and assumed a two-stroke lead over fellow Aussie Jarrod Lyle, whose 65 matched Buckle for the lowest score of the windswept afternoon. Lyle is at 8-under 205 along with Texan Martin Piller (66), Fabian Gomez (67) of Argentina, Scott Gutschewski (69), Vance Veazey (69) and Brian Vranesh (68), last year's playoff runner-up to Bubba Dickerson.

"It definitely helps if you hit off early," said Buckle. "You're not thinking about the lead or anything like that I guess. Those guys are in the lead and they probably hit off when the wind is at its strongest. It shouldn't be any different but maybe those guys have had their good rounds already, who knows."

Lyle, who started Thursday with a 2-over 73, has put together rounds of 67-65 and will play in the final group Sunday after starting Saturday's round nearly 3 ½ hours in front of the leaders.

"They call Saturday moving day for a reason," he said. "I knew I had to come out and put myself in a position that I can challenge on Sunday afternoon and I've done that today, so it's been a good day."

Garth Mulroy started the third round at 9-under and one in front but struggled to a 3-over 74 and is tied for 10th, four back of the leader.

Jason Enloe, in second to start the day, stumbled to a 78 and finds himself T41 heading into Sunday's finale.

Jeff Brehaut, and Canadian Jon Mills are at 7-under and tied for 8th place.

Third-Round Notes:

• Brian Vranesh aced the 194-yard, 3rd hole today using a 5-iron. It was the second ace of the week. Matt Wiebring had one Friday on No. 11.

• Buckle has one career win on his resume -- the 2006 Virginia Beach Open.

• Eight of 16 third-round leaders have gone on to win this event, including four of the last five and the last three in a row.

• The last Australian to win this event was Gavin Coles in 2008.

• Buckle's 129 (64-65) total in the second and third rounds is one shot off the lowest 36-hole score on Tour this year. Fran Quinn posted a 128 total (66-62) in the second and third rounds of the Panama CLARO Championship, which he went on to win.

Round Front 9 Back 9 Total
Round One 35.826 36.250 72.076
Round Two 35.050 35.362 70.411
Round Three 35.727 35.970 71.697

• Scoring averages for the week: