VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Woody Austin entered the third round of the South Georgia Classic on the Nationwide Tour five shots back of leader Luke List on Saturday, but gained confidence from a back-nine 31 in the second round and carried that good play into Saturday. He fired an 8-under 64, which tied the course record, and shares the 54-hole lead with List, who posted a 3-under 69 to reach 12-under 204.
Lefty Ben Briscoe of Wales, Austin’s playing partner, also moved up the board with a round of 66 and is two shots back along with Will MacKenzie (69).
Tied for fifth and four off the pace are Georgia’s Richard Scott, first-round leader Robert Streb and Brad Stuard.
Leading the field in putting average, Austin believes that a great putting day can go a long way.
“You know it just goes to show when you can putt like some people that do it every day it’s kind of fun.” Austin joked. “Now I know why Brad Faxon smiles a lot.”
Through the round Austin responded well to mistakes, following each of his bogeys with a birdie on the very next hole. Austin chalked up eight birdies on the day, but admitted it was something else that turned things around.
“The thing that got me going was I hit two really good shots on 11 in the middle of the green and I made it from about, I don’t know 25 to 30 feet for eagle,” Austin chuckled. “Those are putts I haven’t made for years, so it was just nice to see those go in.”
Austin leads the tournament in putting average, converting just under 48 percent of his putts when he hits a green in regulation. If he is going to play well and win on Sunday, he is going to need to continue his success with the putter.
List’s round, while not as flashy as Austin’s, was very steady and showed his maturity to handle the situation.
“I was really happy with the way I played today, I really hit the ball nicely and stayed patient. It was tough on the front, I shot even,” List explained. “I really felt like I played a lot better than that, normally in the past I might have you know gotten a little angry or something but I really hung in there today.”
List, like Austin, had his moment on the par-5 11th hole, here he made one of those non-makeable putts for eagle.
“It was anywhere from 80 to 100 feet,” he said. “It was a bomb. It was actually very straight at the end; I couldn’t believe it fell in the right side because the grain was going right. It’s one of those lucky putts that you know you’re just trying to get close.”
List and Austin will play together in the final group on Sunday.
Austin has played with the pressure of the lead on the PGA Tour before and should feel a little more comfortable than List. The question -- what is the mindset of the young gun going into Sunday’s round?
“I been there before in college and stuff, but that’s been awhile,” said List. “I feel confident out here and know what to expect.”
--Woody Austin tied the tournament record with his 6-under 30 on the back nine.
--Tom Hoge, who eagled both par 5s on front nine in the third round, also had an eagle on No. 11 in second round bringing his total for the year to five.
--Ryan Zabroske eagled both par 5s on the back nine. Andrew Buckle birdied all four par 3s.
--Garrett Willis withdrew after the third round.
--The Nationwide Tour will move to Athens next week for the Stadion Classic at UGA. The tournament will be held at the University of Georgia Golf Course April 30-May 6.