Blake shoots 66, grabs lead at Harding Park
Saturday, November 5, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO — Jay Don Blake shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Championship.
Blake, who snapped a 20-year victory drought this season when he won the Songdo IBD Championship in South Korea, had five birdies in his bogey-free round at TPC Harding Park. He pulled ahead with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 and finished at 8 under.
Jay Haas shot a 67 to join Michael Allen (69) and David Frost (69) at 6 under. Loren Roberts was another stroke back after a 65, the best round of the day.
Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman was tied for 16th at 1 over after a 72. Mark Calcavecchia, 382 points behind Lehman, had a 70 that left him tied for sixth at 4 under. He needs to finish at least second to win the season title
Fred Couples, tied with Allen for the second-round lead, shot a 74 to drop into a tie for 12th at 1 under.
Blake began the season playing on partial-exemption status and had to play Monday qualifiers in some of the events. The victory in South Korea in September — his first on any tour since the PGA Tour’s 1991 Shearson Lehman Brothers Open — gave him full status through next year.
Blake also is free from the back pain that hindered him earlier in his career and forced him to step away from the PGA tour earlier than he wanted.
Playing at Harding for the first time, Blake is making up for lost time.
While Frost and Allen both took sole possession of the lead and then lost it, Blake quietly worked his way up the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 2, 8 and 9. He got to 7 under with another birdie on 16, then made a 30-foot putt from the fringe on 17.
Haas also closed strong to get back in contention a day after being hobbled by lower back pains. The U.S. Presidents Cup assistant captain had three birdies on the front, bogeyed No. 11 then birdied the final two holes.
Frost and Allen stayed within range of the leaders despite both struggling down the stretch with two bogeys apiece over the final six holes.
Allen was at 7 under until his bogey at par-4 18th dropped him back.
Roberts, the points champion in 2007 and ‘09, had seven birdies and a bogey after going 1 over through the first two round.
Couples dropped well off the pace after double bogeys on 12 and 18. He also had a bogey on No. 8, a par 3.
Earlier, Couples and Calcavecchia were greeted on the first tee by Hall of Fame baseball great Willie Mays. Mays laughed with the two players and joked with their caddies while fans looked on.
This isn’t the first time Couples and Mays have talked, either. The two first met at the Presidents Cup here in 2009, and earlier this week Couples fondly recalled spending two hours then with Mays.