Knowing tournament officials could call off the final round of the Stadion Classic at UGA if the weather took a turn for the worse, Brendon Todd left nothing up to chance on Saturday.
The former Georgia golfer shot a 2-under 69 in the third round to move into sole possession of the lead at 8 under, a shot ahead of playing partner Tim Wilkinson.
“My approach today was to just stay patient and treat it like a one-day shootout because we don’t know what the weather’s going to have for us,” Todd said. “And I knew there wouldn’t be anything bad that could come from leading after today. I don’t know how Tim was playing it, but I was basically playing to win it today.”
A victory today would make Todd the third current or former Georgia golfer to win the tournament since it moved to the UGA Golf Course four years ago. Russell Henley won in 2011 while still an amateur and Georgia golfer and Hudson Swafford won in 2012 as a tour rookie.
“Any win at this point in your career is a good win,” said Todd, a member of Georgia’s 2005 NCAA championship team. “We’re just trying to get to the next level, so a win would definitely move us into that direction. And to do it here in Athens would be really special.”
Martin Piller, a former Texas A&M golfer, won the tournament in 2010.
He was 1 over Saturday and for the tournament.
Todd had an opportunity to build on his lead on the 18th hole, his final of the day, but he hit his first putt too hard and misread the second, leading to his second bogey.
“That was a little disappointing, but overall I made a couple nice birdies there coming in to make that not sting as much,” said Todd, who shot birdie on each of the course’s three par 5s and on the par-4 No. 15. “… I tried to play a good hole and played it perfectly, and I just got a little bad break going down the ridge and obviously hit my first putt too hard.”
Wilkinson had an opportunity to finish the day with a share of the lead but also needed three putts on No. 18 for a bogey. The New Zealand native, who has been a fixture near the top of the leaderboard with rounds of 67, 69 and 70, said he wasn’t focused on catching Todd but rather on maintaining his own composure on a cold, wet and windy course.
“I think I have a good mindset in these conditions and I’m a pretty relaxed type of person,” Wilkinson said. “Obviously, I don’t let things get me down too much. I know I’ve got a good short game, and I know if I miss a few greens I’m probably going to get a lot of up-and-downs. I’m hitting it pretty straight, so I guess I’m not really worried about anything out there. I’m just playing, trying to give myself chances.”
Nick Rousey, who had the best round of the day at 5 under, is at 6 under and alone in third place, Alexandre Rocha (3 under on Saturday) is in fourth at 5 under, and Woody Austin (1 under), Miguel Angel Carballo (even) and second-round co-leader Michael Putnam (3 over) are tied for fifth another shot back.
Rousey briefly sat atop the leaderboard Saturday morning and almost wrapped up what would have been the day’s only bogey-free round before he needed three putts on No. 9, his final hole.
“I made some nice par saves, especially early,” Rousey said. “I made a great par on the very first hole [No. 10] and then I just kept hitting greens and being patient. It just worked out in my favor. I was very fortunate.”
Rousey said he was right at home playing in the rain.
“I don’t mind this weather,” Rousey said. “Being in Pensacola, I’m used to the rain, especially in the summertime, and playing on the mini tours for so long, we always play in stuff like this. So the weather itself, I knew it was going to be tough, I just needed to be kind of patient and let the round happen.”