Saturday’s golf: Every takes Nelson lead midway through suspended 3rd round

Associated Press
Matt Every had a 6-under 30 on the front nine Saturday to get to 18 under, which was enough to take the a one-stroke lead over Sung Kang before play was halted due to darkness at Byron Nelson Open.

Dallas — Matt Every only needed half a round to go from a four-stroke deficit to a one-shot lead at the Byron Nelson. He will have 27 holes to play Sunday before he can win the tournament.

Every opened the rain-delayed third round with a chip-in eagle , then had four birdies in a span of five holes to take the lead from Sung Kang before play was suspended because of darkness Saturday night with that lead group through nine holes. Only 12 of 83 players finished the third round.

“It was like a normal round of golf for me, it felt like it,” said Every, whose two PGA Tour victories were both at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, in 2014 and 2015.

The start of the third round at Trinity Forest was delayed six hours because of heavy rain overnight and into the morning.

Kang matched the course record with a 61 in the second round to take a four-stroke lead over Every into Saturday after the two also played together the first two rounds.

Every had a 6-under 30 on the front nine Saturday to get to 18 under, a stroke ahead of Kang after he was 1 under for the day.

“It was playing super easy, so it wasn’t like I had time to be nervous about anything,” Every said. “I just needed to keep making birdies.”

The third round will be completed Sunday morning. A secondary cut, to the low 70 scores, will be made before the fourth round. There is no rain in the forecast, with sunny skies and temperatures getting to the high 70s for Mother’s Day.

Tyler Duncan, also in the final threesome, was 3 under and was third at 15 under a day after his wayward tee shot on his only bogey in the second round hit his wife on the head – she was OK. Scott Piercey was 7 under through 13 holes to get to 13 under, tied for fourth with Sebastian Munoz and Rory Sabbatini.

Nicholas Lindheim was making a run at his own 61, or better, at 9 under for the day through 15 holes. At 12 under for the tournament, he was one of seven golfers tied for seventh.

“I had some really good opportunities on the last two holes I played I didn’t capitalize on,” Lindheim said. “I always figured if you try it doesn’t happen. You just got to allow it to happen. We’ll see what happens.”

Also at 12 under was Brooks Kopeka, the world’s No. 3-ranked player who will go to the PGA Championship at Bethpage next week as the defending champion.

Koepka has four consecutive birdies late in his second round, then started Saturday with birdies on the first two holes. But he was only 1 under through 10 holes when play stopped, his only other non-par hole being a bogey at the par-5 No. 7.

Every chipped in from the fairway, about 90 feet from the cup, on the par-5 first hole and immediately cut Kang’s lead in half. With birdies at Nos. 4-6, even with Kang’s nice par save on the short 318-yard fifth. 5 before his birdie at the next hole, Avery was within a stroke.

“Got in a nice rhythm,” Every said.

The lead changed hands at the par-3 eighth hole when Avery rolled in a 5-foot birdie. Kang, who said he unexpectedly felt calm throughout the round, had just three-putted for his first bogey in 38 holes.

“The good thing is, positive thing is, we only play nine holes and I made a couple mistakes I shouldn’t have,” Kang said. “We know how to adjust tomorrow. Just play like the last couple days and it will be just fine tomorrow.”

Champions Tour

Steve Stricker didn’t have another near-flawless round, but he found a nice way to finish.

He birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and held the lead after three rounds at the Regions Tradition. Bernhard Langer was among three players two strokes back.

Stricker, who shot a second-round 64, enters the final round of the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors at 14-under 202. He was 1 over on the front nine on Greystone’s Founders Course after his first bogey of the Tradition but birdied all three par 5s on the back nine.

On the final one, Stricker sent a shot onto the green above the hole on No. 18. His approach had landed in the rough near a bunker.

“I didn’t hit the best of second shots,” Stricker said. “I tried to hit a 3-wood and hit it really hard and tried to get it into the green. Kind of hit a little thin and rolled it up there.

“I was just trying to give myself a 10-footer, try to play it off the back of the green. I was able to get a good read from Billy Andrade. He showed me the line a little bit and I was able to knock it in.”

Langer, who won the Tradition in 2016 and 2017, shot a 68. David Toms had a 70 and Andrade a 69 for the three-way tie for second. Tom Byrum and Paul Goydos were three shots back. Byrum shot a 66 and Goydos a 69.

The weather held out for the second straight day after the first round was halted at midday. But more thunderstorms were forecast overnight and throughout the morning Sunday, with leaders scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and a two-tee format.

Langer saved par on No. 13 with a nice pitch to a couple of feet from the hole after hitting it in the water. He had his first bogey of the tournament two holes later.

He is seeking to become the Tradition’s first three-time winner. He already has won a pair of majors three times each, the Senior Players Championship and the Senior Open Championship.

Toms, who counts the 2001 PGA Championship among his 13 PGA Tour wins, made a long putt from the edge of the green on No. 7 for his first birdie of the round.

He won the U.S. Senior Open last year for his only win on the 50-and-over circuit.

Stricker is seeking his fourth PGA Tour Champions win and first senior major after tying for second at the Tradition last year. He splits time on the PGA Tour but won three times in seven starts last year on the 50-plus circuit.

Charles Schwab Cup leader Scott McCarron was 3 over after a 72, but will retain his No. 1 spot after this weekend. Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) shot a 70 but remains 74th in the pack.

European PGA

Tommy Fleetwood shrugged off the effects of a virus to move into contention to win the British Masters as a late stumble from Matt Wallace in the third round threw the European Tour event wide open.

After going 47 holes without dropping a shot, second-round leader Wallace bogeyed the 12th and ran up a double bogey on the 15th — after his wayward drive hit a spectator on the head — in shooting a 2-under 70. He was level in first place on 14-under 202 overall with Marcus Kinhult (68).

Fleetwood, who is hosting the tournament at Hillside in his home town of Southport in northern England, said he struggled for energy and believes his son Frankie, who had tonsillitis last week, “has given me something.”

Still, the world No. 16 holed from 25 feet for an eagle on the 11th and also birdied Nos. 12, 14 and 17 to shoot a 68 and delight the sell-out crowd. Fleetwood was 11 under, three strokes off the lead alongside Robert MacIntyre (68).

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, seeking his first win for four years, was two shots off the pace after a 71.