5 Things: Gomez, Brown lead at Puerto Rico
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – Fabian Gomez and Scott Brown will enter the final round of the Puerto Rico Open in unfamiliar territory atop the leaderboard. They set a 54-hole record of 18-under 198 and are four shots clear of the field.
Here are 5 Things you should know:
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GOMEZ GOES LOW AGAIN: Fabian Gomez birdied his first three holes and shot 6-under 30 on the front nine at Trump International Golf Club. He took just 11 putts on the front side, and tied for the most one-putt greens with 12 in the third round. He made his lone bogey at the 10th when his approach shot plugged in a greenside bunker and he needed two shots to reach the green. Gomez backed up Friday’s career-best 64 with a 7-under 65.
Gomez won the 2010 Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour, but rallied from behind. This time, Gomez, who earned his card back with a T-10 finish at Q-School, will play from the final group for the first time.
“It’s going to be a little hard, a little nerve-racking so I will just try to stay as relaxed as possible in order to try to perform as best I can,” said Gomez, 34, of Resistencia, Argentina.
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BROWN'S SWING CHANGES PAYING OFF: After shooting a 5-under 67, Scott Brown couldn’t stop singing the praises of his new golf coach, John Tillery.
“He’s helped me a ton,” Brown said. “My swing was too steep and to the right. I was hitting a lot of thin golf shots. I feel like I have more control now.”
Brown said the two knew each other from their college golf days. (Brown led South Carolina-Aiken to three consecutive Division II national championships, in 2004-06, and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.) Tillery also coaches Tour pro Blake Adams.
A hot putter also has something to do with Brown’s position at the top of the leader board. He leads the field with just 73 putts through three rounds.
Brown finished No. 148 on the 2012 Tour money list after making eight cuts in 24 starts. With his limited Tour status, Brown said he planned to focus on the Web.Com Tour.
“I could play a full year out there and just try to gain status back out (on Tour) for ’14,” he said.
But those plans could change in a hurry.
“That’s the plan, unless something crazy happens,” he said.
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NO STATUS, NO PROBLEM: First-year pros Blayne Barber and Jordan Spieth are playing without status in the pro ranks, but they are making the most of this week’s sponsor exemptions. Both enter the final-round tied for third place at 14 under.
Barber shot his second 6-under 66 of the week, and finished strong, with birdies on three of his final four holes. Barber, a former Auburn star, disqualified himself for a penalty after the first stage of Tour Q-School.
Spieth, a former two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion, failed to advance through the second stage at Q-School and turned pro in December, forgoing the rest of his college eligibility at Texas. Spieth’s 67 included a hole-in-one on the par-3, 11th hole with a 4-iron.
A top-10 finish would gain them entry into next week’s Tampa Bay Championship. A victory, of course, would alleviate all of their problems.
Romero incurs post-round penalty: The back-nine travails of 36-hole leader Andres Romero took a turn for the worse when he was penalized two strokes on the par-4 12th hole – one for moving a ball at rest (Rule 18-2) and an additional penalty of one stroke for playing from the wrong place (20-7).
That turned his 5 into a 7 and dropped him from minus-13 to minus-11 and into a tie for 15th place.
After hitting his tee shot into the water on the right side at No. 12, Romero opted to drop within two club lengths of the point where he entered the hazard, which happened to be on the cart path.
“The way (the ball) hit the cart path, it bounced up like it was going to hit him,” said Tour rules official Mark Dusbabek.
But it didn’t (if it had, he could have re-dropped without penalty under Rule 20-2). Romero’s first mistake was picking up the ball and re-dropping. Then, he took relief from the cart path, picked up the ball again and made another drop. From there, he made a bogey 5 on the hole.
Dusbabek said he was informed of a possible rules violation from the Golf Channel truck while Romero was playing the 14th or 15th hole. He went to the production truck and watched the tape. After the round, he met with Romero, who wasn’t informed of the possible rules violation during the round. Francisco Rivera of the Puerto Rico Golf Federation joined them in the scorer’s area to bridge the communication gap with Romero, an Argentine who speaks chiefly Spanish.
“Andres was under the impression it had rolled more than two club lengths from his point of entry into the hazard. Actually the point is from where it first touches the ground,” Dusbabek said.
First, he confirmed that the ball had not touched Romero nor had it moved closer to the hole. To help confirm the drop and the distance covered, they drew it out on paper, and Romero agreed the original drop was within two club lengths. He didn’t ask to review the video.
“That’s the way golf works,” Romero said.
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SHORT SHOTS: Ryo Ishikawa recorded his first hole-in-one on the Tour, acing the 183-yard par-3 eighth hole with a 6-iron. Ishikawa, who finished second at the Puerto Rico Open last year, moved into contention with a 66 and stands T-8. . . . Matt Jones, who also is tied for eighth, shot the low round of the day, a 64. . . . Peter Uihlein (T-8) shot 72, but remained in position for a top-10 finish, which would earn a berth into next week’s Tampa Bay Championship. Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez shot a third straight round of 69 in his Tour debut.