Owen leads Barracuda Championship after 54 holes
RENO, Nevada — News and notes from Saturday’s third round of the Barracuda Championship, with Greg Owen vaulting to the front with 37 points. Owen leads Stuart Appleby and Derek Fathauer by five points in the Modified Stableford event. OWEN SEEKING FIRST TOUR WIN Owen had been at 40 points, but a double bogey on No. 18 cost him 3 points. His tee shot went into the rough, then he hit a tree on the way out. But Owen was not to concerned about that one bad shot. He said having his family in attendance has motivated him to golf well. He said his family is going on a summer vacation next week, something they have not done in many years. “I’ve been out here nearly 23 years now, not in America but touring 23 years. Every summer I miss my kids’ summer school vacation, so to have them here with me is just great. I’m coming towards the end of a career which has been long and tiring and grinding, and I’m just -- I’m not saying I don’t care, it’s just not the be all and end all anymore,” Owen said. “All year, the putts have not dropped. This week they’re going in. I’m reading the greens really well. That’s the only difference. It’s a case of I’m going to move on and let these youngsters take over because these hills are killing me right now.” Owen, 45, whose middle name is Clive, is 150th in the FedExCup standings. The top 125 earn exempt status on the PGA TOUR next year. He’s not just good at golf. He was the No.1-ranked tennis player in Nottinghamshire at age 13. Owen has no wins on the PGA TOUR, and three in international play, the last in 2004. He finished tied for second this year at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Appleby made a birdie on No, 18 to move inot ta tie for second with 32 points. Fathauer said it was not his best round. But he is in a good spot. “I just kind of held it together on the last few holes, but definitely wasn’t my best golf,” Fathauer said. “Sort of didn’t really have a good feel of where the ball was going, just sort of hit it in the right spots, and I got lucky on that par-5 to hit it so close and have pretty much a tap-in eagle.” He made an eagle on No. 13. BARNES BLASTS AWAY Ricky Barnes had one of the best rounds Saturday, putting up 15 points and has 31 for the tournament. He had a chance for an eagle on No, 18, but was just wide on a 28-foot putt. He had nine birdies on the day, seven on the back nine. He had two bogeys on the front nine. “Fortunately in this format, you can shake off bogeys pretty quick if you’re making birdies,” Barnes said. He said the course at Montreux usually starts out soft, then gets much firmer as the week goes on. So far this week, it has stayed soft, allowing him to go right at the pin. “Usually you’re playing the ball to bounce 6-8 yards on the greens with 9- and 8-irons. It’s still soft enough where you can go at a lot of these pins, so if you’re driving it well, getting it down there, you can kind of take dead aim with a lot of wedges through 8-irons out here,” he said. Barnes, who is married to former Nevada volleyball standout Suzanne Stonebarger, has five top-25 finishes this year and has made 17 cuts. SAUNDERS FINDS HIS GROOVE Sam Saunders scored 13 points after making an eagle on No. 8 Saturday and has 27 points for the tournament. He said eagles are almost necessary to do well in the Modified Stableford Format. “It just kind of gives you a boost to keep going,” he said of making an eagle. “I made a couple nice putts on the back nine and didn’t make any bogeys and give any away on the back.” He said Montreux can be a forgiving course, as long as you stay out of the rough. The mountains and hills also come into play. “The rough is tough here, but if you drive the ball well, you can make it through a whole week here without seeing much of it, because the fairways are generous if you shape the ball the right way,” Saunders said. “So you really have to pick the right targets off the tee and hit good quality shots, and if you do that, the fairways can play quite wide, and you need to be out of the fairway coming into these greens because they can get a little bouncy and you want to put it on the correct side of the hole to try to make some putts out here, and I’ve done that pretty well most of the week.” TWO EAGLES FOR SABBATINI Rory Sabbatini moved into contention with 13 points Saturday after making two eagles, worth 5 points each, on holes Nos. 8 and 13. He has 25 points for the tournament. He said more points are possible and he plans to stay aggressive in Sunday’s final round. He bogeyed No. 18 Saturday. “The scores are out there. It’s just taking advantage of the golf course,” Sabbatini said. “The scores are out there, so (Sunday) is going to be interesting. I’m going to have to go out there and fire low and make a lot of birdies, a lot of eagles. The only thing you can take into Sunday is you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to stay in the same aggressive mind frame. You can’t go out there and try and protect it because people are going to catch up quickly. Regardless of where you’re sitting, you’ve got to go out and just play as hard as you can and get going as fast as you can.” NOTABLE SCORES Kyle Reifers, who lost on the second hole of a playoff in the Barracuda Championship to JJ Henry in 2015, and has a sister who lives in Reno, made a birdie putt on No. 18 to finish the day with 23 points. He had two double bogeys Saturday, but he is confident heading into Sunday’s final round. “Your whole world can change in two holes,” Reifers said. “It’s a lot of fun and you’re never out of it. You can’t just let go or give up or anything.” Two years ago, he had three eagles on the back nine, en route to earning 22 points in a day. “I’ve been really close to putting it all together, so if I can take away thse two mistakes today I should have a good chance (Sunday),” he said. Reifers has three top-25 finishes this year and has made 15 cuts. Davis Love III has 21 points. Cutdown: After Friday’s cut, there were 70 professionals and one amateur from a field of 131 professionals and one amateur. Maverick McNealy, the lone amateur in the field, made his second cut in four starts this season. In addition to missing the cut in the U.S. Open and Open Championship, he finished tied for 44th at the John Deere Classic. McNealy has 11 points. McNealy just completed his final year on the Stanford men’s golf team where he tied Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers for a school-record 11 career victories. Aging well: The last two winners of the Barracuda Championship were over the age of 40. Appleby (2nd) is 46, Greg Owen (T3) is 45 and Dicky Pride (T3) in 48. Early start: Due to potential afternoon storms, the Barracuda Championship’s fourth and final round will feature threesomes going off split tees from 7:30-9:30 a.m. No weather woes Saturday: The weather delay on Friday, due to lightning and thuderstorms, was the first time the PGA TOUR event at Montreux had been delayed for weather since 2004. It is the 18th event of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season to experience a suspension. It rained lightly off and on Saturday afternoon, but play was not stopped. BARRACUDA BONUS Daniel Summerhays took the lead for the Barracuda Bonus with plus-9 points on hole No. 18 at Montreux. Two golfers are tied for second with 7 points each, Ben Martin and Mark Hubbard. The Barracuda Bonus is a $50,000 charitable donation given in the name of the player who collects the most Modified Stableford points on the par-5 18th hole at Montreux over the course of the four competitive rounds. One-half of the $50,000 will go to charity or charities in the Reno-Tahoe area while the other $25,000 will go to a charity of the player’s choice. Additionally, $100,000 will be donated to charity for the first player to record a double-eagle at No. 18.
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