Assistant PGA Professional Championship: Danny Lewis leads heading to final round

By Pat Kravitz
Published on
Assistant PGA Professional Championship: Danny Lewis leads heading to final round

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Following the third round of play at the 40th National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, Danny Lewis is the leader in the clubhouse at 7-under par. The Morrow, Ohio resident, Lewis, carded a 2-under 70 on Saturday at the Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Since dropping a stroke on his ninth hole during Friday’s second round, Lewis played bogey-free golf for 25 straight holes until he dropped a stroke on the par-3 17th. Overall, he was happy with his performance.

“Today was good. I played steady and made some key up-and-downs to keep the momentum going,” Lewis said. “Pretty boring golf, but it was good in these conditions.”

LEADERBOARD: Check scores from the Assistant PGA Professionals Championship

The leader after 36-holes, Jack Lempke struggled to find his form Saturday. After starting the day with two birdies through four holes, Lempke went on to bogey holes 7 and 9, and dropped two strokes on the par-4 12th.

Still, Lempke’s approach has not wavered as he sits just one stroke behind Lewis. “Today was tough. I knew coming into the week, with it being windy, there was going to be a day where I wasn’t in the best rhythm," Lempke admitted. "With that said, I was prepared to get the ball in the hole. Fortunately, I was able to make some birdies on the back nine.”

A familiar face made a charge up the leaderboard: 2015 Assistant PGA Professional Champion, Andy Mickelson. The Lockport, Illinois resident carded the best score of the day, a bogey-free, 4-under 68, to bring himself within two strokes of the lead.

“I hit it solid and didn’t get in trouble. I made birdies on the holes you’re supposed to birdie,” he explained. “My best ball-striking round was yesterday, but it was still a solid round. The wind is tough.”

Since beginning the championship 3-over through his first nine holes, Mickelson reversed course completely by shooting 8-under through the past 45 holes. The defending champion is in a groove and is confident heading into Sunday’s final round.

“I know what I can shoot and I know what I’ve shot in the past,” he said. “I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. I feel like I have a pretty good chance.”

Tied with Mickelson in third-place at 5-under is Daphne, Alabama resident, Todd Bailey. It was an up-and-down round for Bailey, as he had five birdies and three bogies. Still, his third consecutive sub-par round leaves him in a good position.

“I feel like I have a pretty decent command over the direction of my ball,” he said. “I may take a couple more chances if I need to tomorrow.”

Scott Berliner (Saratoga Springs, New York), Matt Borchert (Windermere, Florida) and Mike Stone (Toledo, Ohio) each carded a 3-under 69, joining Mickelson as the only players to break 70.

The final group of Mickelson, Lempke and Lewis will tee-off at 10:00 AM tomorrow.

11 of the remaining 78 players are under-par for the week.

The par-4 18th has played the toughest through three rounds with an average score of 4.526, while the par-5 16th has ranked the easiest (4.637).

14 of the 78 players (18%) broke par on Saturday. Thursday saw 11% of the field in red numbers, while Friday was a bit more generous with 20%.

Ben Polland rounds out the top five at -4, three strokes behind Lewis.

Shawn Warren (Orlando, Florida), Bailey and Lewis are the only players to break par in each of the first three rounds.

Brittany Kelly (Indianapolis, Indiana) and Joanna Coe (Baltimore, Maryland), the two women remaining in the field, both shot 74 on Saturday. Kelly sits in a tie for 28th place, while Coe is T38 heading into the final round.

The day’s only eagle came from Matt Borchert (Windermere, Florida), who took advantage of the par-5 16th.

Past champions in the field include:
Chris Moody of Provo, Utah (2007): 78-72-71 (+5)…T31
Grant Sturgeon of Port Chester, New York (2014): 76-73-76 (+9)…T62
Andy Mickelson of Lockport, Illinois (2015): 74-69-68 (-5)…T3