BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO " In the end, it was a happy birthday for 34-year-old Brian Davis.
Davis fired a 4-under-par 68 Saturday at the 10th annual Legends Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club and sits all alone in second place at 202, six shots behind third-round leader Parker McLachlin, who shot a 66 en route to setting a course record for 54 holes at 196.
John Rollins is third at 206 with Andrew Buckle and John Merrick a shot back at 207. There is a four-way tie for sixth place at 208.
"It was going to be the worst birthday round for three holes," Davis said. "I hit a couple of shaky shots the first two holes. I made a couple of pars. With the pin position on No. 1, you are looking for birdie. It wasn't the best start.
"I got in a bit of trouble on No. 3, and before you know it, I racked up a double (bogey). I felt like my tournament had just ended right there. I knew it was going to be tough out there today. It's not the easiest course when the wind is blowing like it is today."
Davis went on to play the final 15 holes in 6-under-par, including birdies at 4, 5, 8, 14 and 17. He also had an eagle 3 on No. 9, a 616-yard par-5.
"For me to personally be in second place after that double is pleasing," Davis said. "I was hoping I would be a little closer to Parker."
The eagle on No. 9 shaved the deficit to five shots. Davis took his drive down the left side and then hit a 2-iron utility club to the green and sank a 6-footer to go to 13-under-par.
"It bounced and rolled," Davis said. "It rolled across the right-hand side of the hole and I made the eagle putt which was great. That got me some momentum."
Davis, who needed 22 putts on Saturday, worked with his coach in Canada last week.
"I was saying to my coach that I was playing better, but I just wasn't making any putts," Davis said. "We worked on a few things. There is such a fine line out here. That (putting) is generally all the difference. The difference between being 8-under and 14-under with a chance to win over three rounds is nothing, just a few putts."
Davis, who played on both the PGA and European Tours briefly in his younger years, would like to do that once again. However, family health issues have kept the family in Orlando, Florida " at least for now.
The Davis' second child, Henry, kept getting kidney infections. His doctor was in Orlando, Fla.
"I didn't want to go back to Europe for four months like I usually did," Davis said. "I didn't want him being away because he got infections. He got them every few months. I usually played three months here and four months over there.
"Obviously it's not a hardship decision because I play on a great tour. I made the decision to quit Europe and the European Tour totally understood. I decided to stay here. We just had our third child, Madeline, and she had trouble breathing. Both of her lungs collapsed. It was pretty scary. Fortunately they have all the machines a baby would need. I'm very thankful to them."
One of Davis' reasons for eventually wanting to play in Europe again is that he would have a better chance to play in the Ryder Cup.
Meanwhile, McLachlin showed no signs of coming back to the field during the third round. He recorded five birdies and an eagle en route to his third straight round in the 60s.
"I've been hitting the ball well," McLachlin said. "Everything has just been real solid and I've been really fighting to stay in the present and not think about anything but the shot I've got in hand. It's a fun feeling because this game can beat you down... I'm having a lot of fun and playing great golf now."
McLachlin started with three straight pars, then birdied No. 4, a par-5, to get to 15-under-par. He followed that up with an eagle on the 351-yard par-4, driving the green. Apparently, the ball rolled onto the green while Larry Mize was putting. McLachlin went on to drain the 8-footer to go to 17-under.
"If we would have seen them the rest of the day I would have said something," McLachlin said. "You can't see around the corner. I didn't think I was going to get it to the green. I was trying to get it short of the green. I only flew my drive 200 yards. It must have rolled another 150 yards."
McLachlin birdied No. 9 to go 18-under.
Great chips on Nos. 16 and 17 produced a par and birdie, enabling McLachlin to maintain a solid lead. Both chips came out of deep rough. He was able to get close enough on 16 to save par, and on 17 he chopped out close enough for a two-putt birdie to reach 19-under-par. A birdie at No. 18 got him to 20-under-par.
"Those are the kid of shots I really enjoy," McLachlin said. "They bring out the creativity in me, and those are the kind of shots as a kid you just stay out for hours and practice those shots. Those don't scare me. It's more fun to pull off a high flip shot off like that. I hope I don't have too many of those tomorrow."
McLachlin has been in this situation before. He blew a seven-shot lead in a Nationwide event in 2007. He was asked if he could take advantage of that situation this time around.
"Most definitely," McLachlin said. "You know, I learned a ton that day. I had some extenuating circumstances, My caddie had gone down with " he was like dehydrated and had to go to the (emergency room) on Friday. He left midway though the round and I picked up a different guy on Saturday. My caddie tried to loop it again on Sunday. I'm worried about him.
"I'm thinking I've got such a big lead. It was my first time having a big lead, and I didn't approach it the right way and learned from it. I think I'm a different player now then I was then, just with the control of my game. That one, I looked past the finish line early, and this one I'm looking forward to the first shot tomorrow. That's as far as I'm going to go."
- Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1281