Parel leads Wheatcroft by one after third round of Air Capital Classic

Scott Parel
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Scott Parel made two birdies in his first three holes Saturday, then made a lengthy eagle putt on No. 14, en route to the third-round lead at the Air Capital Classic.
Royce Thompson, Tour Staff

Series: Tour

Published: Saturday, June 15, 2013 | 9:07 p.m.

WICHITA, Kan. – Scott Parel holds a one-stroke lead over Steve Wheatcroft heading into the final round of the Air Capital Classic on the Tour. 

Parel made two birdies in his first three holes at Crestview Country Club on Saturday, then made a lengthy eagle putt on 14 to get to 12 under par, but would give one back on 16 and finish at 11-under-par 202.

There are seven players tied for third, two off the pace. Notable names in that group include Paul Claxton, who shot 63 in the third round; Kansas Jayhawk Chris Thompson; first-round leader Alex Prugh and Bhavik Patel.

Parel, who has never held a lead after 54 holes in a Tour event, ranks seventh this week in fairways hit. The 48-year-old pro is trying to keep it in the short grass as much as possible because he knows that the rough this week cuts down on his chances to make birdies.

“The thing for me this week is I have to play out of the fairway,” he said. “Keeping the ball in play in the past has been my strength, this year it is not.”

Parel cites a herniated disc along with other troubles with his back for an inability to find as many fairways as he is accustomed to. He is starting to feel good and is playing much better as a result.

“The back is great,” he said. “The last three weeks it’s felt really good, and you have to play well when you feel good.”

Parel has not recorded a top-10 this year on the Tour. In fact, this is only the fourth cut he’s made. The Augusta, Ga., resident knows that this is a good opportunity to get his first win, and hopes to capitalize on his good play. The top 75 on the money list after the Cox Classic get into the Tour Finals at the end of the year, which is what Parel, who is currently ranked 153rd, is focused on.

“I just put myself in position to have a chance,” he said. “You have to take advantage because you don’t know how many chances you’re going to get.

“Everyone knows you make the majority of your money in a three- or four-week period. My goal is to play well enough to get into that top 75 and have a chance in those four finals events.”

Wheatcroft birdied his first four holes of the day before making four bogeys in his next five holes. He struggled with his short game and also made a few mistakes off the tee in what he called a “bad stretch of golf.” He was able to save his round on 18 when he buried a lengthy eagle putt, putting him at 10 under and in the final threesome on Sunday. 

“It was a great way to finish, I needed that,” he said. “Because I felt like I had just thrown the day away.

“You always want to be in the final group,” he said. “You want to be with the leaders because if you have to catch somebody you want to be watching them.”

Players will go off in threesomes on Sunday off split tees with the leaders teeing off the first hole at 9:50 a.m. CT because of the possibility of storms in the afternoon.

Third-Round Notes:

--This week’s purse is $650,000 with $117,000 going to the champion.

--Paul Claxton fired a 63 that included a bogey on his fourth hole of the day. He hit 11 fairways and took just 24 putts.

“If you get something going like I did, it’s just perfect,” he said. “There is no wind and the greens are holding, you just hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens like I did and I made a few putts.”

Claxton is struggling this year, missing the cut in his last four events. He has made a few changes this week and credits those adjustments with his great play.

“I haven’t been doing anything real well this year,” he said. “But I switched drivers and I switched putters and it seems to be clicking a little better than what I was doing.”

The transition to the new equipment has been smooth and has given him confidence that he can post another low round.

“Sometimes a change is what you need and it’s been working this week so far,” he said. “If I can get out and do this again tomorrow, you never know.”

--The last time Steve Wheatcroft found himself near the lead after 54 holes was the 2012 Albertson’s Boise Open, where he posted a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for second.

--Aron Price’s 64 is the lowest score he has recorded on a moving day in his career on the Tour.

--There were 12 eagles on the back nine, with six coming at the par-5 14th.