B.J. Staten knows the task at hand facing him on Sunday. The former University of Houston golfer will begin Sunday’s final round at the 20th annual WNB Golf Classic with a two-stroke lead over Gavin Coles and three strokes over rookie Harris English, who tied the tournament course record with a 10-under-par 62. Staten has a 54-hole total of 18-under-par 198.
Winless in 121 previous starts on the Nationwide Tour, Staten last led or tied for the lead heading into the final round in June, 2010 when he was tied for first at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open (finished tied for 30th) and the Mexico Open (tied for second).
“There are a lot of quality guys behind me and all you can ask for is to have a chance on Sunday,” Staten said. “I had it going today and it was really fun there for awhile. When you get conditions like we had today, you have to take full advantage of it. If you don’t, guys are going to pass you by. That’s the way it is out here.”
The lone blemish in Staten’s round came on No. 15, where he hit his driver left and took an unplayable, which led to a double bogey. However, he offset his one misfortune with five birdies and an eagle at No. 12 on his way to a 5-under-par 67.
“I just had one bad golf swing, which came at No. 15,” Staten added. “I just came straight out of the driver and hit it left and made double, but I had a lot of chances out there today. I missed makeable putts at 10 and 11 as well as at 13 and 14. If you asked me at the start if I’d take a 67 today, I would have. I can’t complain.”
Staten made four birdies on the front to make the turn at 17 under and drained a 35-foot putt for an eagle on No. 12 that moved him to 19 under par after 12 holes. However, after his double at No. 15, he bounced back with a sand wedge to four feet for a birdie at No. 17 and then capped his round with a clutch eight-foot par save on No. 18.
Australian Gavin Coles heads the group of players chasing Staten. He fired a 7-under-par 65 on Saturday and had a chance to tie Staten with a par putt at No. 18 but missed his 12-footer.
“I hit a few squirrely ones today that I got away with and made some good putts which I hadn’t been making all year,” Coles said. “I made a couple over 20 feet which isn’t too bad for me. I was patient and I think I hit 16 of 18 greens today. The highlight of my day was my shot at No. 8. I hit a 3-iron to an inch. We’ve got another 18 to go so we’ll go out and see what we can do.”
Rookie English tied the tournament course scoring record with his 62, the lowest round of his golf career. His 6-under-par 30 on the back nine included five straight birdies to close out his record-tying day.
“We had perfect weather today and it was a really good day to score,” the former University of Georgia star said. I struggled with the putter the last couple of days but I lightened my grip on the putter and it really helped. I’ve been hitting it well and gave myself some chances. I rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 1 and started to get some confidence and went on from there.”
This is just his second professional start. He won the Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Invitational in July as an amateur and turned professional before last week’s Soboba Golf Classic where he finished T49.
--Thanks to near-perfect weather on Saturday, a total of 25 players in the 67-man field posted rounds in the 60s and the field averaged 70.905.
--Harris English became the sixth player in tournament history to shoot a 10-under-par 62 in the event. Chad Collins was the most recent player to do so, accomplishing the feat in 2009. English’s 62 also tied the mark for the best third-round score set by Todd Barranger in 2000.
--Should B.J. Staten prevail on Sunday, he would become the 12th player to earn his first Nationwide Tour victory in this event and he’d become the 11th first-time winner on the Tour this year. This will be the second time in 2011 that Staten will play in the final pairing. He also did so at the Chiquita Classic, where he tied for fifth.
--Staten, Gavin Coles and David Lingmerth are the only players to have posted three straight rounds in the 60s.