5 Things: Koepka maintains lead at Frys.com
Brooks Koepka continues to hold the lead at the Frys.com Open and is looking for his first professional win on American soil.
Koepka made six birdies and two bogeys en route to a 4-under 67 on Saturday at CordeValle. At 15 under, he leads by two over George McNeill (62) and Jason Kokrak (68).
Koepka started off the third round strong with three birdies in his first four holes. He bogeyed the par-4 sixth before going on a six-hole par streak. Birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 17 helped his cause and added another bogey at the par-4 14th.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Saturday at the Frys.com Open:
1. STICK TO THE GAME PLAN: In two interviews, the 54-hole leader, Brooks Koepka, couldn’t stress enough the importance of sticking to his game plan.
“Stick to it (the game plan) and everything will take care of itself,” said the former All-American at Florida State.
He has won four times on the Challenge Tour over the last two seasons, but leading on the PGA Tour heading into the final round is a new experience for the 23-year-old.
“You just have to approach it the same way,” Koepka said referring to winning on the Challenge Tour and trying to do so on Sunday in the U.S. for the first time. “Just stick to the game plan.”
Koepka is trying to become the first player since Lee Westwood at the 2010 FedEx St. Jude Classic to win on a sponsor exemption.
2. WALKING IN STYLE: A day after Andres Gonzales tied the course record – 9-under 62 – at CordeValle, Jimmy Walker did the same thing.
Walker, who is searching for his first PGA Tour victory, started off strong with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 and 2. He birdied the par-4 5th, but bogeyed the sixth. He came back with another birdie at the par-3 7th.
He made the turn with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 9 and 10, and added birdies at 13, 15, 17 and 18.
“I hit a lot of good iron shots today,” said Walker, who is 12 under for the tournament and three shots back of Brooks Koepka. “I made a couple of longer putts, too, especially on 17.”
Expectations are high for Walker, who had five top-10 finishes during the 2013 PGA Tour season, which included a runner-up finish at The Greenbrier Classic.
“Winning is my number one goal,” he added.
3. HOLD YOUR HORSES: Not long after Jimmy Walker posted his 9-under 62, George McNeill finished with four consecutive birdies to notch his own 62.
“It was a lot of fun,” McNeill said. “I enjoyed it.”
McNeill, a graduate of Florida State, will play alongside leader and fellow Seminole Brooks Koepka in the final round. The two have never met in person, but have spoken on the telephone with one another.
Florida State men’s head coach Trey Jones asked McNeill to talk to Koepka after Koepka qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
McNeill said Koepka asked about whom he should bring for a caddie, a PGA Tour pro or a friend. After that, “We just had a nice talk,” McNeill said.
4. STARTING FRESH As news came out about Vijay Singh using deer antler spray -- in which the Tour dropped the case -- and then Singh suing the Tour for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during the investigation, its safe to say Singh’s mindset wasn’t in the right place during the 2013 season.
“It messed up my whole season,” Singh said. “But now it’s a new season, I’m trying to forget about last year, and just focusing on my game right now.”
Singh is in contention at 12-under 201 after a 6-under 65 in the third-round and looking to claim victory for the first time since the 2008 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“My putting has been a big factor,” Singh added.
After he started off with a bogey at No. 1, Singh made five birdies and an eagle over the next 17 holes.
He said the whole deer-antler spray and suing the Tour incident affected him on the course, but in his personal life the most.
5. SHORT SHOTS: Will MacKenzie and Ricky Barnes came in with the second lowest scores of the day with 7-under 64s. . . . Max Homa fired a 5-under 66 on Saturday. That gets him to 10-under 203 for the tournament and five shots back of the lead. Homa is making his professional debut on a sponsor’s exemption. Homa, currently T-7, needs to finish inside the top-10 to earn another PGA Tour start. . . . Spencer Levin is making the most of his medical exemption. Levin who is making his first PGA Tour start in more than a year after a wrist injruy, is T-12 after rounds of 71-65-68. Levin needs to make $595,483 in 28 starts to retain his Tour card.