Moving day at PGA qualifier
Appeal Sports Writer
DAYTON – It was moving day at the PGA Tour Stage 1 Qualifier on Thursday, meaning there was some significant movement in the 78-player field.
Eric Meeks, James Drew, Kane Webber and Ben Garner all made huge jumps and put themselves into serious contention entering today’s final round at Dayton Valley Golf & Country Club.
Drew entered the third round tied for 28th place at 3-under-par 141. He put together a 6-under-par 66 and moved into a tie for 10th at 9-under-par 207. Webber, Meeks and Garner were tied for 34th at 2-under 142. Webber and Meeks both shot 65s to also move to 207. Garner fired a 66 and moved into a 16th place tie at 208.
Former UNLV golfer Seung-su Han leads the field at 14-under-par 202. Veteran Chris Kamin and Tyrone Van Aswegen are a stroke back at 203. Michael Block and Ben Portie are tied for fourth at 205.
The top 26 finishers and ties advance to second-stage qualifying, and barring any major mishaps, the aforementioned quartet has a solid chance at moving on.
The Australian-born Webber had eight birdies and one bogey, including a stretch where he birdied Nos. 10, 11 and 12 with putts of 10, 2 and 20 feet, respectively.
“There could be some low scores later,” Webber predicted, as he got ready to munch on a post-round sandwich. “I know this place. I’m playing position golf off the tee.
“If the winds pick up, you will see guys playing for the center of the green. If you don’t drive it well, it’s tough to control shots out of the rough (with the wind blowing).”
Garner took five years off, and this is just his second qualifier. He was 4-under on the front nine and 2-under on the back nine. He parred the last six holes.
“I wore my rally plaid slacks,” Garner said. “It seems like it worked. I sold some real estate (the past five years) and a had a couple of bad injuries.
“When I’m driving the ball well, I feel confident with the rest of my game, and right now, I’m driving it well. My putter feels good. My pace (on the greens) has been good.”
Drew was a bit errant off the tee, but hit enough recovery shots to save a solid round.
“I couldn’t hit it (3-wood) straight,” Drew said. “I need to go to the driving range and fix it. I did hit my irons well. I hit a lot of 6-irons, and I really feel confident with that club in my hands.”
Wil C. Collins carded the low round of the tournament with a 9-under 63 that is just one shot off the Dayton course record. Collins also vaulted up the leaderboard and into contention to advance to the next qualifying stage by moving from 63rd place into a tie for 28th.
“I needed a big round after two very disappointing days to start,” said Collins, whose round included an eagle, eight birdies and one bogey. “I made a bunch of putts. I squeaked in a putt on the first hole and built from there. A solid round tomorrow is all I’m thinking about.”
The highlight of Collins’ round was the 50-foot eagle putt he drained on the 11th.
Collins enjoyed two tremendous stretches of golf. Starting on the back nine, he birdied Nos. 10, 12 and 13 and eagled 11 to go 5-under par after five holes. He played par golf until draining a birdie putt on No. 18 to make the turn at 30.
The front side proved nearly as easy. After a par at No. 1, Collins birdied Nos. 2,3 and 4 to go 9-under par. He recorded his only bogey on No. 7, but got that stroke right back with a birdie at No. 8.
Matt Bettencourt and Franklin Hatchett, the co-leaders after 36 holes, both slumped to 73s and are tied for 10th place.
Kamin, who was three shots off the lead at the halfway mark, moved into second place thanks to his 6-under-par 66 which gives him 203 after 54 holes.
“The wind made it a little interesting out there,” Kamin said. “I hit driver and sand wedge for my second shot into 18 (a 537-yard par 5) and made birdie. Overall, I hit the ball a lot better and made some putts today.
“I think this is the lowest I’ve been at this point. I’ve been somewhere between 7 and 10-under.”
Kamin collected seven birdies and one bogey in his stellar round. It’s the second time in three days that he’s been in the 60s.
On the local front, Chris Trevino, former San Diego State golfer being sponsored by Wolf Run Golf Club in Reno, moved closer to the cut line number with a 1-under 71.
“I’m starting to get more comfortable here,” he said. “I’m not playing the par 5s very well and that is the difference in being closer to the cut number.”
Trevino feels the cut number after the final round will be 5 or 6-under, which is not unattainable from his position.
Former Nevada star Carlos Concho also continued to move up the leaderboard with a 3-under 69. After breaking his putter in the second round, and using assorted clubs to putt with the final 13 holes, Concha went back to the putter he has used all season.
“It went a lot better today, I birdied all of the par 5s and took care of business on the rest except for one double bogey,” he said. “I felt comfortable with the old putter and made some putts.”
Notes: The field is averaging 71.18 through the first three rounds, and the cut line appears to be 6-under-par … Forty-two players finished in red numbers on Thursday and 11 others shot even-par 72 … The toughest hole on the course was No. 9. The par-4 played to a 4.35 average. The easiest hole was a tie between the par-4 2nd (3.92), the par-3 4th (2.92) and the par-4 15th (3.92).