Bowditch shoots 65 to keep lead, Spi­eth 6 back at Nel­son

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY SCHUYLER DIXON

Steven Bowditch po­si­tioned him­self Satur­day for his sec­ond PGA Tour win in Texas. Home­town fa­vorite Jor­dan Spi­eth might have to keep wait­ing for his first.

Bowditch shot a 4-un­der 65 on Satur­day in the AT&T By­ron Nel­son to take a two-stroke lead and leave Spi­eth six shots back head­ing into the fi­nal round.

On a mostly sunny day that started with the sec­ond straight three­hour de­lay be­cause of ear­lier rain, Bowditch got to 13-un­der 195. The Aus­tralian, who won the Texas Open last year in San An­to­nio for his lone PGA Tour ti­tle, was much stead­ier a day af­ter a wild sec­ond round of seven birdies and six bo­geys.

Dustin John­son was in the group tied for sec­ond af­ter the day’s low round of 62 on the rain-al­tered par 69 at TPC Four Sea­sons.

Jonathan Ran­dolph, play­ing with Spi­eth and sit­ting 266 spots be­hind him in the world rank­ing, briefly held the lead but went in the wa­ter on 18 for a dou­ble bo­gey that dropped him into a tie with John­son, Texan Jimmy Walker, Scott Pinck­ney and Jon Cur­ran. Pinck­ney shot 64, Ran­dolph 65, and Walker and Cur­ran 67.

Spi­eth had a 68. The Masters cham­pion was tied for 18th.

Cur­ran, the rookie who shared the sec­ond-round lead with Bowditch and Walker, ral­lied with three straight birdies late in the round.

Clouds grad­u­ally dis­ap­peared dur­ing the af­ter­noon and the fore­cast is clear for Sun­day. But the course is still soggy enough that the nor­mally par-4 14th will re­main a pitch-and­putt par 3 barely longer than 100 yards for the third straight round.

PGA Tour of­fi­cials be­lieve it’s the first par-69 course in records go­ing back to 1983. Three­somes will play off both tees again Sun­day to give the course more time to dry, and the fi­nal par to­tal will be 277 af­ter the first round played at the nor­mal 70.

Bowditch, who held the lead alone af­ter the first round, bat­tled some marshy con­di­tions to stay on top. The 31-year-old who lives in the Dal­las area had his only bo­gey at No. 9, when his tee shot went way right into a wa­ter haz­ard and he had to take the drop in a mushy part of the rough.

The squish of his foot­steps could be heard as he spent sev­eral min­utes dis­cussing his lie with rules of­fi­cial Peter Dachisen be­fore fi­nally hit­ting. Bowditch shook his head as he walked while the ball rolled onto a cart path be­hind a bunker left of the hole. He missed a par putt.

Spi­eth, the world No. 2 and FedEx Cup points leader, missed short birdie putts on his first two holes and never could make a strong push de­spite an­other large gallery urg­ing ev­ery shot to go in.

That al­most hap­pened on the best spec­ta­tor hole, the par-3 17th, when Spi­eth’s tee shot landed less than a foot from the pin be­fore back­ing up and set­tling about 8 feet away.

Fit­tingly on a frus­trat­ing day, Spi­eth left the putt on the edge of the cup, bend­ing down to stare at it for a few sec­onds in case it dropped be­fore the Dal­las na­tive tapped it in.

Ran­dolph played a six-hole stretch in 5 un­der, in­clud­ing an ea­gle at the par-5 sev­enth. He was a stroke up on Bowditch af­ter mak­ing about a 25-footer at the par-4 12th, with Bowditch pulling even again af­ter al­most driv­ing the green on the 323-yard, par-4 11th.

John­son, who won the Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship at Do­ral in March for his first win since a six-month hia­tus for per­sonal rea­sons, had four birdies in five holes on the front and fin­ished his round by putting his ap­proach at the par-4 18th in­side 5 feet for a birdie.

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