Geoffrey Sisk shot a 2-under 69 Saturday and maintained his grip on the lead at the Nationwide Tour’s inaugural Mylan Classic in suburban Pittsburgh. Sisk stands at 12-under 201 after three trips around the Southpointe Golf Club, two strokes in front of local favorite Steve Wheatcroft (68) and three in front of Kevin Kisner (68).
Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya (70) is at 6 under and alone in fourth place, while Patrick Sheehan (68), Dicky Pride (70) and Chris Nallen (72) are at 5 under and sharing fifth place.
Sisk started the day by completing his rain-delayed second round, finishing up three holes at even par to get in at 10 under and two in front of his nearest challenger. Wheatcroft, who grew up about 10 minutes from the course, came back from his parents’ house early to play one hole and was three back when the third round started.
Sometime overnight, fall moved into western Pennsylvania and turned round three into a guessing game for the 61 who survived the first two days. The high temperature was in the mid-90s on Thursday but fell a couple degrees shy of 70 on Saturday.
“It was just brutal out there,” said Kisner, who has posted three straight 68s. “You stand out there and it’s blowing 30 one second, five the next, 20 the next, it’s left to right, it’s into you -- you had no idea where it was coming from. We were guessing on every shot.”
The best rounds of the day were the trio of 3-under 68s turned in by Sheehan, Kisner and Wheatcroft, whose first job in high school was working in the bag room here when he was 15 years old. Only nine players broke par and the scoring average of 73.900 (par-71) made it the single toughest scoring round on the Nationwide Tour this year.
“It was really tough with the wind swirling,” said Sisk after hitting 8 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens. “I didn’t hit the driver as well as I would have liked on the front side but I hung in there and hit some really good iron shots. So far things have gone pretty well for me.”
Sisk was not seriously challenged for the lead and maintained a gap or two or three strokes during much of the windswept day.
“With as swirly as the wind was today, I’m extremely pleased with the score,” said Sisk after battling winds of 15-25 mph. “The past 54 holes I have struck it as well as I have in a long time.”
Nonetheless, Sisk isn’t making any plans for the first victory speech of his career.
“There are still tons of players out there. This is a quality field,” he said. You never know and you don’t take anything for granted. If there is anyone within six or seven shots, that’s the caliber we have for players out on this Tour.”
His nearest challenger for Sunday’s finale is Wheatcroft, who needs a few more putts to fall if he’s going to earn his first career title.
“I know I’m playing well. I know I’m swinging my irons well,” he said. “I’m not making any putts. I’ve had three chip-ins this week and it seems like all of my birdies have been inside of five feet. I feel like I hit it to 15, 18 feet we’re having a hard time reading them and I’m having a real hard time matching up my speed with the breaks.”
Third-Round Notes: A total of 27 players didn’t finish Round 2 on Friday and returned to course to complete play Saturday morning. … A total of 61 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 141…. Fourth-round tee times will start at 7:10 a.m. Play will be in twosomes off the first tee with an expected finish time of 4:00 p.m. The final pairing of Sisk and Wheatcroft will start at 11:40 a.m. … * Saturday’s scoring average was 73.900 at the par-71 Arthur Hills layout, making it the toughest single-round scoring day on the Tour this year. … Suprisingly, one of the toughest holes was the reachable par-5 eighth hole. The downhill hole measures 540 yards with a narrowing landing area and water guarding the green to the left. The hole had a scoring average of 5.383 and was the third-toughest for the day.
Michael Putnam had a hole-in-one at the par-3 fifth hole. Putnam used a sand wedge from 129 yard for his ace, the fourth of his career (three in competition). The ace was the second this week (David Robinson, Rd. 1) and the 15th on Tour this year. Putnam’s last ace came on the 17th hole at Forest Oaks CC in the opening round of the 2007 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. … Mathias Gronberg withdrew during the round due to an injury. … This is the first time that Geoffrey Sisk has held the 54-hole lead on the Nationwide Tour. His previous best position was a tie for second at the 2000 Carolina Classic, where he trailed by one shot entering the final round.