Owen, Gomez each shoot 67 to take a 54-hole lead at St. Jude

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY TERESA M. WALKER

Eng­land’s Greg Owen has never had a piece of a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. Now he hopes he can stay re­laxed with the great short game that has him in po­si­tion to win his first ti­tle in his 214th tour event.

And win­ning would mean so much more than sim­ply hav­ing a ti­tle on ev­ery tour Owen’s ever played.

“Just a huge, huge re­lief that what you’ve been striv­ing for your whole life you can say you’ve achieved,” Owen said Satur­day.

Owen and Fabian Gomez of Ar­gentina each shot a 3-un­der-par 67 to share a one-stroke lead af­ter 54 holes at the St. Jude Clas­sic, tied at 9-un­der 201 to­tal.

Swirling wind and tough pins kept ev­ery­one guess­ing on a hec­tic day at TPC South­wind, where as many as six play­ers had a piece of the lead.

Both Owen and Gomez putted well on the firm greens de­spite hit- ting only 11 of 18 greens. Owen needed 26 putts in mak­ing four birdies and one bo­gey, while Gomez had 24 putts de­spite three bo­geys. He had six birdies.

“I’m read­ing them well, and my pace is good and I feel good with the put­ter,” Owen said. “I’ve been work­ing hard.”

Gomez cred­ited hit­ting his driver well and find­ing fair­ways with leav­ing him plenty of short putts.

“I’ve been work­ing since the be­gin­ning of the year,” Gomez said through a trans­la­tor. “You know when you make some putts, the con­fi­dence gets higher and the game is eas­ier.”

Brooks Koepka had at least a piece of the lead through the first two rounds and got to 10 un­der. He fin­ished with a 71 and was tied with Scott Brown (68) for sec­ond at 202.

“It was swirling, swirling so much we couldn’t even fig­ure out a wind di­rec­tion,” Koepka said. “We knew it was com­ing from the south. Down­wind, threw grass up, hit you in the face two sec­onds later. You never re­ally knew where the wind was.”

Matt Jones (68) and Austin Cook (72) were tied at 204, and David Toms (69) and Camilo Vil­le­gas (66) were tied with six oth­ers at 205. Phil Mick­el­son (69) was in a group tied at 207.

Owen, 43, who lives in Florida, has strug­gled this sea­son, miss­ing five of 12 cuts on tour. His best ca­reer fin­ish is sec­ond at the 2006 Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional, but his best re­sult this sea­son is a tie for 22nd last Novem­ber at the San­der­son Farms Cham­pi­onship. He knows this might be his best, last chance at a PGA ti­tle.

“I’m in a po­si­tion where this year my ca­reer is prob­a­bly on the down spi­ral a lit­tle bit,” Owen said. “It’s very up­set­ting to say that. There’s a lot of young kids com­ing through. You got to be game. It’s a dif­fer­ent game from when I started.”

His lone bo­gey came at No. 10, and Owen, who shared the 18-hole lead with Koepka and Ryan Palmer, moved atop the leader­board with Gomez when he birdied the par-3 No. 14 from 11 feet. He also fin­ished with a birdie on No. 18 af­ter hit­ting his ap­proach to 5 feet.

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