GREAT EXUMA, The Bahamas A day after a 3-over 75 seemingly dropped Tommy Gainey out of contention, the 44-year-old responded with a bogey-free 67 to ascend the leaderboard and take a one-stroke lead into the final round at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. At 8-under, Gainey edged four players by a stroke to take the 54-hole lead.
Gainey began the day eight strokes back of Dylan Wu, but a 3-over front nine by Wu opened the door. Gainey birdied his first two holes and turned at 4-under 32 before tacking on one more birdie at the par-4 13thto reach 8-under.
I think Dylan shot 67-66 the first two days and he was 11-under going in, but I knew I could get this golf course when the wind lets up just a bit, said Gainey, a PGA TOUR winner at the 2012 RSM Classic. Obviously it subsided some today, which I was glad to see, and I played a great round.
Four different players held a share of the lead during the third round as less windy conditions led to better scoring conditions, including Wu, Gainey, George Cunningham and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Though the conditions were calmer than the first two days, the sea breeze was still consistently 15-20 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour.
Playing in (windy) tournaments throughout my career have me prepared for when it is gusting hard, said Gainey. Everyone has to play in it I try to deal with it like everybody else and so far its going pretty well.
After a par at the par-5 first, Gainey credited his shot on the par-3 second hole with kick-starting his round.
On No. 2, I hit the ball to about 10 or 12 feet, said Gainey. The pin was on the front and it was playing about 210 yards. When you hit it that close with the wind in your face off of the left, Im pretty happy with that. Birdies on the first two holes really started my momentum.
While the second hole was kind to Gainey, the same cant be said for Wu, who began the day with a seven-stroke lead on the field. After a birdie at the first, Wu hit his tee shot on the second in the water and settled for a triple bogey. He added three more bogeys and a double at the par-4 12th(countered by three more birdies) to card a 4-over 76.
Of course its hard when you lose a lead like that, but its my first time playing in this type of situation on this Tour so all you can do is learn from it, said Wu, whose seven-stroke lead after the second round tied a Korn Ferry Tour record. Im still happy that I still have a chance to win the tournament tomorrow.
Zalatoris, a former standout at Wake Forest University, carded the round of the day with a 7-under 65. Entering the day 11 strokes off the lead, Zalatoris enjoyed a torrid stretch from Nos. 13-15 in which he went ace-birdie-eagle. The ace was the third of Zalatoris life and helped him overcome an early double bogey at the par-3 sixth.
On No. 13 I had a pitching wedge and the pin is so far up that I could barely see the bottom of the hole; it ended up going in, which was a shocker, said Zalatoris. After that I was just trying to validate that shotOn 15 was when I knew it was my day. I had a good tee shot but had 295 yards to the hole and its blowing 30 miles per hour downwind. I hit 5-iron and pulled it, it was carrying the edge of the water the whole time and rolled up to about 25 feet from the hole. Erik (Compton) told me I need to go buy a lottery ticket after this round. I agree.
The final round on Wednesday will run from 7:25 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. off of the first tee.
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