Davidson, Blaum and Barber Tied for 54-Hole Lead in BMW Charity Pro-Am.
For the first time in the history of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation there are three players tied at the top entering the final round. Local favorite Matt Davidson, who played college golf at nearby Furman University, former Auburn All-American Blayne Barber and Duke’s Ryan Blum share the 54-hole lead at 14-under-par 201.
Wake Forest’s Kyle Reifers and Vanderbilt’s Jon Curran are a shot back in a tie for fourth. Just two strokes off the pace are 2013 U.S. Walker Cup team member Max Homa, England’s David Skinns and Australia’s Gavin Coles.
Davidson, who graduated from the Greenville college in 2004 and moved back to the area a few years ago, will be the likely crowd favorite on Sunday. The 33-year-old pro has felt some pressure this week but is having fun playing in front of friends and family.“It’s awesome; it’s definitely more exciting than if it was a different tournament,” said Davidson whose 67 came at The Reserve at Lake Keowee. “It was fun to play with all those people watching.” This is the first time Davidson has held or shared the lead after 54 holes on the Web.com Tour. The New Jersey native believes he may need to post something special on Sunday to have a chance at earning his first Tour victory. “I guess it just depends on the weather,” Davidson said. “Typically the scores are pretty low out here and the leaderboard is going to be log jammed heading into the final round.”
Barber, on the other hand, has won on Tour. He also played The Reserve course. The Florida native has been on a hot streak of late earning his first victory a few weeks ago in Valdosta, Ga., and wouldn’t mind making it two in a row. “Golf is a funny game in that it doesn’t satisfy you,” he said. “It’s just one of those times where I feel like I’m playing well and I’m thankful to be here.”
Blaum, who won the Order of Merit on the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last year, played at Thornblade Club on Saturday. He indicated he hit the ball better than the previous two rounds. The highlight came on the par-5 15th, where Blaum hit a hybrid from 240 yards to 15 feet. The 30-year-old rolled in the putt for eagle and would add one more birdie on the very next hole to tie for the lead. Even though this is Blaum’s first experience at the top of the leaderboard this season, he is confident he can take home the trophy on Sunday. “The goal out here is always to win,” he said. “I feel I’ve been playing well enough to win the last four or five events.” The unique pro-celebrity/amateur tournament format used three different courses in Upstate South Carolina over the first three rounds. All play returns to The Thornblade Club on Sunday, including the top pro-celebrity and pro-am teams.
Notes & Quotes:
Saturday’s Weather: A bright, sunny morning gave way to clouds midday and a few sprinkles of rain in the afternoon. When play started at 8:30 a.m. temperatures were approaching 50 degrees. The high reached about 70 degrees. Winds were 5-10 mph from the west in the morning, before switching to north-northwest in the afternoon.
Given the unique three-course format, this week’s cut was made after 54 holes vs. the standard 36. 75 professionals survived the cut, which came at 6-under par (209). The most players to previously make the cut (when cut was low 60 and ties) was 74 in 2003 and 2006.
The low-six celebrity teams and the low-10 amateur teams qualified to play on Sunday at Thornblade.
The fourth and final round gets underway on Sunday at Thornblade Club at approximately 6:45 a.m., with tee times going until approximately 12:30 p.m. off the first tee.
Leading the Pro-Am portion of the tournament at 32-under par are Jonathan Randolph and Ryan Floyd. Andrew Putnam and Rolf Klam are 31-under par and Alexandre Rocha and Adam Bryant are 30-under par.
Leading the Pro-Celebrity competition at 33-under par are Adam Hadwin and Wayne Gretsky. Max Homa and Janet Jones’ Gretsky are at 26-under par while Scott Pinckney and Ty Gretsky are at 23-under par.
This is the first time in tournament history there have been more than two players tied for the 54-hole lead. The low 54-hole score in BMW Charity Pro-Am history is 194 (-21), set last year by eventual winner Mark Anderson.
Of the 18 previous BMW Charity Pro-Am events that have played 72 holes, ten of the 18 thirdround leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win. The last to do so was Mark Anderson last year.
Second round co-leader Trevor Murphy suffered three bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey at Thornblade Club en route to a 6-over 77, which left him one shot inside the cut line at 6 under.
Brasil Champions winner Jon Curran moved into contention with a 5-under 66 that put him into a tie for fourth place. Curran was struggling on his first nine at Thornblade Club and made the turn at 1-over par after three consecutive three-putts at Nos. 15, 16 and 17. “I’ve been hitting really good shots all week, I just haven’t been making anything,” he said. “I three-putted those holes and I’m thinking this is a nightmare.” Curran rolled in a five-footer for birdie on No. 1 and that started a run of five in a row. He added a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 7 and closed his day with a 6-under 29 to vault up the leaderboard. “A lot of times it just happens. You can’t really do anything to make it happen. You just let it come to you and stay patient. That’s the biggest thing.”
D.J. Brigman made a unique and important par on his 18th hole, the par-4 9th at Green Valley CC. After hitting his tee shot out of bounds, he hit his second tee ball in the fairway and proceeded to hole his approach from 125 yards with a pitching wedge to make 4. Brigman made the cut on the number at 6 under.
Kyle Reifers admitted to losing his focus while waiting on a ruling that was being made ahead of him on the 18th hole at Thornblade Club. His par putt lipped out, placing him one shot out of the lead and tied for fourth. His post-round comments: “I’ll be ready tomorrow. I’ve got a little fire in my belly. I bogeyed the last hole in Louisiana a few weeks ago to lose by one so I feel like it’s my time and enough is enough….I’ve won out here and been in contention on the regular TOUR and this is what I’m here for and what I’ve lived to do. I’m excited about tomorrow and I feel nothing but positives by getting up in contention a few times this year.” Reifers’ Web.com Tour win came at the 2006 Chattanooga Classic. He already has two T3s this year, in Chile and Louisiana.
Blayne Barber is looking for his second win of the season, his first came at the South Georgia Classic presented by First Bank and Trust Company. Barber trailed by two heading into the final round and fired a 67 to take home his first victory. Barber’s final round scoring average this year on Tour is 70.25. Barber is looking to become the first player on Tour this year and the first player since Michael Putnam in 2013 to win in consecutive starts on Tour. Putnam won the El Bosque Mexico Championship and the Mid-Atlantic Championship.
Barber on his round – “It wasn’t a sharp day but I guess I put a score on the card so it was good.”
Barber on the possibility of winning two events in a row. – “How crazy is it to have a chance to win two in a row?”
Barber on his friendship with Ryan Blaum – ”Him and I and our wives have become really close this year.”
Matt Davidson is looking to become the seventh first time winner this season on Tour. Davidson averages 70.50 in the final round on Tour this season. Davidson’s best finish on Tour is a T3, he has accomplished this three times most recently at the 2013 Price Cutter Charity Championship.
Davidson on leading a tournament in his home town. – “It’s awesome; it’s definitely more exciting than if it was a different tournament. It was fun to play with all those people watching.”
Davidson on the fan support this week. – “It’s cool; playing at home you put a little pressure on yourself. So, it is a lot of fun if you do play well. I’m just glad I’m doing it and it’s going to be a good experience.”
Davidson on finishing with birdies on No. 17 and 18. – “I hit a couple of good shots in there at the end. It was getting pretty tough at the start of our back nine. I made a bogey (No. 13). To end with those two birdies to feel like I got it back to where I felt like I played a good round.”
Davidson on his playing this week and what it will take to win tomorrow. – “I’ve been hitting it pretty nicely, especially after the first day. At Green Valley I didn’t hit it great, putted okay, and kind of scraped it around in three-under. The last two rounds I’ve hit it nicely. I’ve hit the ball close (to the flag), made some good four, five, seven footers for birdie. I guess it just depends on the weather. You would think that if I got to 20-under I would have a chance. But if it gets windy maybe it won’t be quite that much. But typically the scores are pretty low out here and the leaderboard is going to be log jammed heading into the final round. So you figure someone will go pretty deep.”
Playing at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, Max Homa had the most up-and-down round of those in contention. The 2013 NCAA individual champion out of USC recorded seven birdies and five bogeys in shooting a 2-under 70 (32-38). He is tied for sixth at 12 under.
Happy birthday to Jason Gore, who turned 40 on Saturday (May 17th).
The third-round and cumulative scores at the respective courses are:
Thornblade Club (par 71) – 70.019 / 69.729
Green Valley CC (par 72) – 71.418 / 70.521
The Reserve at Lake Keowee (par 72) – 70.768 / 70.629
The low score at each of the three host courses was:
Thornblade Club – 65, Kelly Kraft (1st Rd.), Mike Miller (1st), Matt Davidson (2nd), Max Homa (2nd), Nick Rousey (3rd)
Green Valley CC – 63, Blayne Barber (1st), Peter Tomasulo (2nd)
The Reserve at Lake Keowee – 65, Bill Lunde (1st), Jonathan Randolph (1st)
The BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation is the ninth of 25 events on the 2014 Web.com Tour schedule. This week’s purse is $650,000 with $117,000 going to the champion. The Tour heads to Raleigh, N.C. next week for the Rex Hospital Open.