Owen hoping to be 9th first-time PGA winner at Barracuda
RENO — The Barracuda Championship has produced eight first-time winners on the PGA Tour.
Greg Owen is hoping to make it nine.
Owen, who has 264 starts without a PGA win, scored 14 points on an overcast Saturday at Montreux Golf & Country Club to take a 5-point lead heading into today’s final round.
Owen, despite a double-bogey at the par-5 18th, has 37 points. Derek Fathauer (11 points) and Stuart Appleby (8 points) are five points back in second at 32. Ricky Barnes, after a 15-point day, is solo fourth at 31.
Tom Hoge (10), Dicky Pride (7), Ben Martin (7) and second-round leader Richy Werenski (4) are tied for fifth with 30 points. J.J. Spaun (12) and Patton Kizzire (10) are tied for ninth at 29.
Owen didn’t pull any punches when asked what a PGA win would mean to him.
“You know, I mean, PGA Tour, it maybe an opposite field event, but it’s still a PGA Tour event,” Owen said.
“I’ve won in Europe. I’d love to have this on my resume just to say I can do it. I know I can do it, it’s just doing it.
“I’m not thinking about it. Honestly, I mean, it sounds crazy. I just want to come and do my job. I’m going to go out there. I’m going to play. I’m going to commit to my shots, and if the putts drop in, I believe I’ll have a good chance.”
Owen led by eight points going into the final hole, but the double-bogey cost him three points.
His tee shot landed in the “native area,” forcing him to take a penalty. He hit his third shot onto the fairway, and then put his fourth shot into the water for another penalty. His sixth shot landed on the fringe, and at that point he picked up.
The 18th hole aside, the veteran was pleased with his day.
“I honestly hit that ball thinking it’s perfect, and you end up dropping three points, but I’m still in a good place,” Owen said. “I felt good every time I stood over the ball. I knew what I was going to do, and I executed it well. It’s very tricky to get them close on the greens. Some of them bounce forward, some bounce back a little bit. I got a few good bounces.”
Owen admitted he’s in a different place right now; a different mindset. He has been on tour for 23 years, and he says he isn’t thinking about making playoffs. He is excited that his family is here watching.
“Every summer I miss my kids’ summer school vacation, so to have them here with me is just great,” he said. “I’m coming toward the end of a career which has been long and tiring and grinding, and I’m not saying I don’t care, it’s just not the be all and end all anymore.”
Fathauer finished with nine points on his final six holes, including an eagle on the par-5 13th.
“I don’t know, I just kind of held it together on the last few holes, but definitely wasn’t my best golf,” Fathauer said. “I didn’t really have a good feel of where the ball was going, just sort of hit it in the right spots, and I got lucky on that par-5 to hit it so close and had pretty much a tap-in eagle.
“But that’s the way it goes, I guess. You get rewarded for taking some risks, and that was a risky shot I hit on that hole. I was just trying to get it near the green and ended up like, whatever, 2 feet away. It was in the rough, and I had to hook it around the trees. I didn’t really have any other shot to hit, and just ended up perfect.”
Appleby recorded three birdies in his last seven holes to stay in contention. He had four birdies, giving him 18 for the tournament.
Appleby hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Greenbrier Classic. He also won the JBWere Australian Masters that year.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with anything resembling contention,” Appleby said. “I’ve been out here 20 years, but you can really struggle to find form. Today was a bit of a struggle. I tried to do a lot of talking to myself.
“I’ve got to just be focused tomorrow on what I’ve got to do.”
Barnes had the best round of the day, and it was a beauty, especially on the back side.
After birdies at Nos. 2 and 4, Barnes bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 to fall back to plus-2 for the day.
The part-time Truckee resident finished the front side with three straight pars, and then went wild on the back nine with seven birdies. In stroke play he would have shot a 6-under 66.
Barnes also is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win.
“Yeah, I was playing nice, pretty steady, and then made a good par putt on No. 9, and that seemed to jump kick everything,” Barnes said. “I hit a lot of good shots on the back nine.
“Made the long putt on 9 but, then got birdies at 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18. You know, you’d like to do that a little earlier in the round and get some momentum, but I kind of did that yesterday late on the front nine.”