Course record levels him with Flesch, Gay

Updated: May 22, 2004, 9:08 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Chad Campbell learned to play golf in windy conditions growing up in the flatlands of west Texas. So, 20-25 mph winds at the Colonial didn't even faze him.

Even with two bogeys, Campbell shot an early 9-under 61 Saturday and ended the third round tied for the lead with Brian Gay and Steve Flesch. He got to 8-under 202 after making the cut over par.

"If you're hitting the shots, if you're getting the ball in play and you feel good over your shots, it's not that tough," Campbell said. "But if you lose a little bit of confidence, those fairways become a lot smaller and they're harder to hit."

That's what happened to Gay.

Gay, whose runner-up finish at the 2001 Colonial matches his best on the PGA Tour, looked as if he'd make a record run of his own. After six birdies in a seven-hole stretch, he had an 8-under round through 12 holes.

But Gay had bogeys on three of his last five holes, losing his chance at the record and sole possession of the lead. He still finished with a season-best 65.

"It's always hard to forget about coming backwards coming in," Gay said. "But I would have gladly taken 65 starting the day, so you have to feel good about that."

Campbell became the third golfer in two years to tie the course record. Before Kenny Perry and Justin Leonard carded 61s last year, there had been only three 61s in the first 56 Colonials.

Campbell also shot a 61 last year, a record 10 under at the Tour Championship on the way to winning his first PGA Tour event.

He added his second win this year at Bay Hill, but hasn't finished in the top 20 in five tournaments since. On Sunday, he will play in the final group with Gay at Hogan's Alley.

"Shooting 61 here with all the history and everything about Hogan, and just the tradition, it doesn't get much better than that," Campbell said.

Zach Johnson (68) was two strokes behind the leaders at 6-under 204, a stroke better than Jesper Parnevik (68) and Craig Perks

(70), the first-round leader whose only win came at the 2002 Players Championship.

Leonard, the second-round co-leader, shot 72 and was in a group of seven tied for seventh at 206. J.L. Lewis shot 75 and fell to 29th.

Flesch, in one of the last groups, had his third straight round under par. His 20-foot birdie at the 188-yard 16th got him a share of the lead.

"The conditions are as difficult as I remember the Colonial playing," Flesch said. "This is a course where playing under par definitely means something."

Campbell didn't have his first par until the sixth hole, starting with a 9-foot eagle putt on the 563-yard No. 1 hole and consecutive birdies. After giving a stroke back by missing the green on the tough 252-yard 4th hole, he made a 32-foot birdie putt at No. 5.

He was 5 under for the day before a three-putt at the 194-yard 8th hole. Then he found a bunker off the No. 9 tee and had to lay up in front of the water fronting the green.

But Campbell's wedge shot from 60 yards landed 10 feet from the pin and he saved par for a front-side 31.

"That really kept my momentum going," Campbell said. "If you don't make that putt, you never know what happens. It kind of knocks all of the air out of you."

Campbell had five birdies from Nos. 11-17, and got up-and-down out of the bunker fronting the 16th hole.

Gay's stumble began with his first bogey in 40 holes -- since the 10th hole in Thursday's first round.

Gay missed the fairway at the 448-yard 14th, then his approach shot settled 75 yards short of the pin. Despite the bogey, he still had a two-stroke lead at 10 under.

His first two shots at the 428-yard 15th landed in bunkers, but he saved par with a 7-foot putt. After his ball flew the 16th green and landed near a scoring tower, Gay hit off an awkward stance to 12 feet but missed the par.

His closing drive wound up in the right rough. His backswing impeded by a tree, Gay had to punch back into the fairway before his approach shot and two-putt from 32 feet.

Perry's 61 last year also came in the third round and gave him an eight-stroke lead on the way to winning the week best known for Annika Sorenstam being the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour. Leonard's closing 61 gave him a runner-up finish, six strokes behind.

Phil Mickelson, the Masters champion who missed his first cut of the season last week, had three birdies his first six holes to get to 6 under. But he dropped back with three bogeys in four holes on the back side and shot 70.

The 2000 Colonial champion lipped a par putt of less than 3 feet at No. 12, came up short of the green at No. 14 and found the creek to the left of the 15th green. He also failed to sustain a charge Friday when he had six birdies his first 11 holes, then had no more.

Notes: Brian Bateman shot 68, his 14th straight round of par or better, the longest current streak on the PGA Tour. He's in the group tied for seventh. ... Bateman and Fred Funk (65) had the only bogey-free rounds. ... Perry shot 70, a day after a 71 that ended his Colonial-record streak of eight straight subpar rounds.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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