Matteson swipes Funai lead with 7-under third round

Updated: October 21, 2006, 9:15 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Troy Matteson has turned his rookie season into a rousing success. He did it in four weeks, too.

Leaderboard
Troy Matteson
1. Matteson (-19)
2. Durant (-18)
3. Rose (-17)
T-4. Love III (-16)
T-4. Howell III (-16)
T-6. Three at -15

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Now, instead of worrying about job security -- something he did continuously until his first PGA Tour victory a week ago -- Matteson can start thinking about the possibility of playing in the 2007 Masters.

Matteson birdied the last two holes Saturday, finished with a 7-under 65 and had a one-shot lead at 19-under 197 after the third round of the Funai Classic at Disney.

"It's been good to see my game turn around," said Matteson, a three-time All-American at Georgia Tech and the 2002 NCAA champion. "To win out here once is pretty difficult. To do it two or three or four times, it's extremely difficult."

Joe Durant (64) was second at 18 under, one stroke ahead of first- and second-round leader Justin Rose (72). Twenty others -- including Davis Love III, Mark Calcavecchia and Mike Weir -- were within six shots of the leader.

Matteson, meanwhile, is starting to get accustomed to being on the leaderboard. He tied for eighth four weeks ago at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, then had a sixth-place finish the following week in Greensboro. The two-week spree moved him from 172nd on the money list to 143rd -- in position to retain his full-time tour card.

It got even better last week in Las Vegas, where Matteson won the Frys.com Open for his first Tour title. The victory vaulted him to 71st on the money list.

Now, he's looking to make it two in a row -- and has a shot at qualifying for the Masters. He has to finish the season in the top 40 on the money list to earn a spot at Augusta National. A win at Disney would help.

"I didn't think the Masters would be something I would worry about until I was in my mid-30s, even if you get in at all," Matteson said. "There's a lot of great players that don't get into that event every year, so if I ever get into that event, it would be a thrill of a lifetime."

Durant and Rose would be thrilled with just a win.

Durant hasn't won since March 2001 at Doral, a five-year streak he's ready to end.

"You always go through periods of doubt," Durant said. "The guys are so good and you wonder if you can still cut the mustard at all. You just keep grinding, you keep playing, you keep working on your game and hopefully you'll start to see some positive signs."

Durant saw plenty of positive signs Saturday, especially on the front nine of the Magnolia Course. He made five birdies and an eagle for a 29. He didn't play as well on the back, but lipped out a birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him a 63 and the low score of the round.

He settled for staying near the head of the field.

Rose was there, too. Still buoyed by his 12-under 60 on Thursday, the Englishman completed the second round Saturday morning and began the third with a four-shot lead. He faded fast, though, shooting 2 over on the front.

Rose may be best known for his dramatic finish as a 17-year-old amateur in the 1998 British Open, when he chipped in for birdie on the final hole to tie for fourth. But recently he has developed a penchant for falling back in final rounds.

He entered the final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship last month tied with eventual tournament winner Tiger Woods in second place. Rose closed with a 1-over 72 and finished tied for fourth at 7 under -- nine strokes behind Woods.

A week later at the Canadian Open, Rose was 11 under and had a one-shot lead heading into the final 18 holes. He shot a 4-over 74 and ended in a tie for 14th, seven strokes behind winner Jim Furyk.

At Disney last year, Rose was on the verge of winning his first PGA Tour title after taking a one-shot lead at 23 under with three holes to play. But he bogeyed the 16th from the rough, then pulled his tee shot on the 18th into a hazard and scrambled for another bogey

He finished two shots behind Lucas Glover.

He hopes his fade Saturday was a one-time hiccup.

"I don't think you accept it," Rose said. "If you keep doing everything right and you keep doing the same things and create the right mind-set you can keep playing great golf. It shouldn't disappear. I just feel like a couple of things maybe fundamentally got a little bit ragged today."

Notes
Calcavecchia shot a 63, the low score of the third round. ... Matteson sank a 25-footer for birdie on No. 17. "That's where you steal one from the field," he said. ... The total purse is $4.6 million.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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