Bradley hangs on to one-shot lead at Nelson
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
The Associated Press | May 19,2013
Vermont native Keegan Bradley reacts to leaving a par putt short on the 18th green during the third round of the Byron Nelson Championship on Saturday in Irving, Texas. Bradley bogeyed the hole but will have a one-shot lead as he seeks his fourth PGA Tour victory today.
IRVING, Texas — Keegan Bradley overcame two early bogeys and maintained his lead at the Byron Nelson Championship with 2-under 68 in the third round Saturday.
Bradley had a 13-under 197 total for a one-stroke lead over Sang-Moon Bae (66) and two-shot advantage over Tom Gillis (67).
On Sunday, Bradley will be trying to win at TPC Four Seasons for the second time in three years. He could also become the Nelson’s first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson led alone at the end of all four rounds in 1980.
After following his opening course-record 60 with a 69 on Friday, Bradley started the third round with a three-stroke lead. He stayed alone at top of the leaderboard throughout, even after consecutive bogeys on the front nine and his third consecutive bogey this week at No. 18.
Bradley avoided a bogey at No. 1 for the first time this week. But not at the 429-yard 18th, which cost him the opportunity for a bigger lead.
On the closing hole, where Bradley went way right off the tee the first two rounds, he smashed his drive down the left side toward the water Saturday. While the ball stayed dry, it settled behind a large rock, forcing Bradley to punch back into the fairway before an approach shot that settled on the front edge of the green. He almost saved par, but the ball rolled just over the lip of the cup and 2 feet past.
Scott Piercy’s 66 matched Bae and three others for the best round on a breezy Texas day. Piercy was fourth at 10 under, two strokes ahead of Gary Woodland (68), Harris English (68), John Huh (69) and 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel (69).
When 83 players made the cut of even par, there were threesomes instead of traditional twosomes for the third round. That put Bradley in the same group with Bae and Gillis, who started the round tied for second place.
Gillis was the last player in the field with a bogey Saturday, when he three-putted from 20 feet at the 203-yard 17th. He got that stroke right back when he blasted out of a greenside bunker for a birdie at No. 18.
Bradley got his first PGA Tour victory as a rookie at the Nelson two years ago. He followed that by winning the PGA Championship later that season and the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in 2012.
He first got to 12 under with a 13-foot birdie at the 505-yard third hole and saved par at the next hole after driving into a fairway bunker.
His consecutive bogeys came when he two-putted for bogey after missing the green at the par-3 fifth and then drove into the rough at No. 6. But after a long wait to tee off at the 542-yard seventh hole, Bradley got to the green in two and two-putted from 14 feet for a birdie.
When Bradley’s drive at No. 11 settled just a few inches above the top edge of a bunker, it looked like he might have some trouble. But he hit his approach shot onto the green, 34 feet from the cup, and sank the birdie putt to get to 13 under.
After his approach at the 546-yard 16th into a greenside bunker, Bradley blasted within 12 feet and made the birdie putt.
Bae, the 26-year-old South Korean who has 11 international victories but none on the PGA Tour, was quickly within a stroke of the lead after birdies on the first two holes. He made a 9-footer on the first and curled in a 32-foot birdie putt at the 223-yard second hole.
A 12-footer for birdie at the eighth hole got Bae to 10 under, again only a stroke back. But Bradley made a 14-foot birdie putt to close out the front nine and made the turn with a two-stroke lead over Bae and Gillis, who also made a birdie from 14 feet at the ninth hole to get to 10 under.