It was ‘green light’ time in Saturday’s third round of the Nationwide Tour’s Rex Hospital Open and Washington native Troy Kelly took full advantage of softened conditions at TPC Wakefield Plantation to shoot an 8-under-par 63 and grab a share of the 54-hole lead. Kelly rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole to take the clubhouse lead at 12-under 201, some two hours before the final groups would finish.
At the end, Ohio State’s Ryan Armour saved par at No. 18 after hitting his tee shot into a hazard for a 4-under 67 and a piece of the lead. Martin Flores, playing in the final pairing, had the outright lead at 13 under but yanked a wedge shot from the fairway and failed to get up-and-down for par, dropping him into a three-way tie at the top.
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Danny Wax (67), Kyle Reifers (67) and Kyle Thompson (68) share fourth place, one stroke back heading into Sunday’s finale. Reifers, a Wake Forest grad, and Thompson, a winner here in 2007, both birdied the final hole to close the gap on the leaders.
Second-round leader Scott Brown, who shot a 63 on Friday, stumbled with three bogeys over his final four holes and shot an even-par 71, putting him alone in seventh spot but only two from the top.
“I knew going into the day that if I could get a low one, and these guys didn’t go too crazy in front of me, that I could get into the mix,” said Kelly, runner-up at the Stadion Classic at UGA a few weeks ago. “I think you have to shoot a low one tomorrow to win.”
Kelly noted that overnight storms had dumped enough water on the fairways and greens that he could focus his attention a little closer to the hole.
“Out of the fairways, you could definitely fire at some pins,” he said. “I think everything was just a touch softer. The ball still jumps out of the rough here and you can catch some fliers so you have to watch yourself.”
Armour is contention despite some loose swings at the end of his day but still much happier than he was at this point a year ago. The former Buckeye was disqualified after the third round when he signed an incorrect scorecard.
“There were about three or four mistakes on the card and I didn’t catch one,” he said. “I was in the car, got on my phone and was looking at the score. I thought ‘I didn’t shoot that, that doesn’t sound right.’ I came back and looked at the scoreboard and we fished out the scorecard. I had to DQ myself. First time in my life I signed a wrong card.”
He now spends an extra few minutes making sure the numbers are right.
“It was about as empty as I’ve been on a golf course,” he said. “You can always handle your physical mistakes but when you do something stupid like that, it really eats at you.”
--In anticipation of possible weather issues on Sunday, officials have moved tee times up. Fourth-round play will be in threesomes off the first and 10th tees, and times will run from 8:00-10:00 a.m. with an expected finish time around 2:30 p.m. Last year’s final round was halted because of severe thunderstorms and would not have been completed on time, which forced officials to cancel the round and revert the finish to the 54-hole standings. John Riegger held a five-shot lead and collected his first career win.
--Raleigh-born Elliot Gealy fired a 1-under 70 and tied for 19th. Ty Tryon, who was also born at Rex Hospital like Gealy, fired an 1-over-par 72 and is even par. Tryon is tied for 52nd heading into Sunday. Both he and Gealy survived qualifying this past Monday and will tee it up at next week’s U.S. Open.