5 Things: Stefani overcomes quad to take St. Jude lead
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Shawn Stefani fired a 4-under 66 on Saturday -- a round that included a quadruple-bogey -- to take a one-shot lead over Harris English heading into Sunday's final round at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Saturday's action at TPC Southwind:
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1. SHORT MEMORY: Shawn Stefani could have folded -- that's what will happen when you card a quadruple-bogey that sees you give away a two-shot lead in the matter of minutes.
But Stefani managed to maintain his nerves and grabbed his first career 54-hole lead in his rookie season on Tour.
It started with a brilliant birdie at the course's toughest par-3 and continued with short birdie makes on Nos. 16-18.
"It's funny. I actually hit a good shot. Pulled the wrong club with the wind," Stefani said of hitting the water at the par-3 11th that led to his quad -- a quad that featured water, two bunker shots and a missed 4-footer to save triple.
"It's tough to watch that," said playing competitor Harris English. "I was pulling for him. Tough to watch that for anybody."
The two will now pair in Sunday's final tee time, both looking for their first PGA Tour victory.
Stefani's success this week wasn't expected, with the Lamar University product having missed 8 of 14 cuts, with only one top-25, a T-7 finish at the Tampa Bay Championship.
He did win twice on the Web.com Tour in 2012, picking up 10 top-25 finishes in 24 events played.
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2. OLD ENGLISH: Beyond book-end birdies, Harris English didn't offer much in the way of excitement on Saturday afternoon -- and he likes it like that.
"I am happy with steady golf," said English, the 36-hole leader.
He took that to new levels with nine consecutive pars from Nos. 9 through 17, leaving three birdie putts on or near the lip.
English took a momentary three-shot lead with a birdie at the par-5 3rd hole, but gave back shots on Nos. 5 and 8 in making the turn with an even-par 35, handing the lead to Stefani.
The second-year Tour member has enjoyed a solid season to date, picking up three top-10s and has earned $767,325 coming into the week. Over his last four starts, he had a T-6, T-33 and T-17.
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3. LEFTY LURKS: It's only his third career appearance at TPC Southwind, but Phil Mickelson seems to be getting better with each round.
After opening with a 1-over 71 on Thursday, Mickelson has battled back into contention behind rounds of 67 and 65, the latter capped with three birdies over his final five holes.
Mickelson opened his round with a bogey, but followed with a birdie at the short par-4 2nd and then made a 12-footer for eagle at the par-5 3rd to see his name creep onto the first page of the leaderboard.
Mickelson had three top-10s entering the week -- including a victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open -- but missed the cut in his last appearance (Players Championship) and had a T-54 performance at the Masters.
In his final tune-up for the U.S. Open at Merion, where driving accuracy will be at a premium, Mickelson has hit 52 percent of his fairways.
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4. ALL IN THE FAMILY: It's a busy weekend for the Thompson family -- with eyes on both Memphis and the LPGA's second major, the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Older brother Nicholas Thompson tied his best round of the year with a 4-under 66, picking up eagle on the par-5 16th on a bunker shot to catapult himself into contention. Thompson entered the St. Jude Classic having missed his last six cuts. He'll play in Sunday's second-to-final pairing with Patrick Reed, who fired a 6-under 64 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in New York, younger sister Lexi Thompson had two bogeys and a birdie in a 1-over 73 that left her T-14 at even par in the weather-delayed Wegmans.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Eric Meierdierks picked up an ace at the par-3 8th hole and added three more birdies en route to a 4-under 66 that pushed him to 7 under overall and is T-6. Meierdierks had missed 9 of 11 cuts coming into the St. Jude Classic . . . Davis Love III, who held a share of the lead after 18 holes, bogeyed the final hole to shoot a 1-over 71 and fell back to 3 under for the tournament . . . Of the 77 players that made the cut, 46 of them were 1 under or better on Saturday . . . Padraig Harrington and Ryan Palmer are also within earshot of the lead, firing 5-under 65s to get to 6 under.