5 Things: Oosthuizen, Todd share lead at Byron Nelson

Louis Oosthuizen during the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Louis Oosthuizen during the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. ( Getty Images )

Saturday, May 17, 2014

IRVING, Texas – The leaderboard after three rounds at the HP Byron Nelson Championship is more bunched than the Bradys. There are 17 golfers within five strokes of the lead heading into the final round at TPC Four Seasons Resort. South African Louis Oosthuizen birdied four of his final five holes to post the low round of the day, a 6-under 64 to grab a share of the 54-hole lead with Brendon Todd.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, and Todd finished with a total of 10-under 210 and are joined on the leaderboard by former major winners like Mike Weir, Padraig Harrington, and even Vijay Singh who are all attempting to end long victory droughts on the PGA Tour.

“As bunched as the leaderboard was, if you didn't do well you were going to drop off there,” said Padraig Harrington, who shot 66 to join a pack of four golfers at 8 under. “You knew you had to get up there to give yourself a chance.”

Here are 5 Things you need to know from the third round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship:

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1. OOSTY'S BACK: A year ago, Louis Oosthuizen withdrew during the final round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship when his back flared up.

“I was on the range and couldn’t take the club back properly and I didn’t want to hurt it further,” he explained.

A year later, here he is at the top of the leaderboard after a 64. Oosthuizen won the European Tour’s Volvo Golf Champions in January and finished tied for second at the Maybank Malaysian Open, but he’s winless on the Tour since the 2010 British and has never won in the U.S., where he now makes a home.

The big question still remains: Will his back hold up? His caddie, Wynand Stander, said Oosthuizen struggled to loosen his back on the range Saturday and early in the third round. Oosthuizen was 2 over through his first four holes before his strong finishing kick. Speaking of the troubles with his back, Oosthuizen said, “It’s a frustrating season for me so far because just now and then I really get issues with my back and can’t get to the bottom of it.”

As for his game plan tomorrow, Oosthuizen said he would stay aggressive.

“I still think you need to go out tomorrow and still with a thought that you need to play at least 4 or 5 under to win this event,” he said.

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2. TODD CAN COMPETE: At the Humana Challenge in January, Brendon Todd shot a final-round 69 to finish T-6, his best finish on Tour (since matched at the Valero Texas Open). What did Todd take away from the experience? A lot.

“I learned that I’m good enough to win out here,” the 28-year-old Georgia product said. “My good golf is just as good as everybody else’s good golf. When I do get nervous or have anxiety I can pull off good shots.”

Todd said he felt “out of rhythm” early in the third round at the TPC Four Seasons, but he hung in there and stuffed a 9-iron to 4 feet on 18 and made birdie for a 68 and a spot in the final pairing on Sunday.

After the round, Todd did a quick range session with his swing instructor, Scott Hamilton.

“I don’t know what else they could work on,” said Hamilton’s wife, watching Todd stripe irons. “He’s hitting it great.”

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3. CALL HIM COACH WEIR: Mike Weir has experimented with a myriad of swing coaches. He was a Stack & Tilt guy for a while, went back to former teacher Mike Wilson, and spent the last year and a half with former Tour winner Grant Waite. How much of his slump – he missed 18 straight cuts between 2011 and 2013 – was due to injuries and how much was due to paralysis by analysis is hard to say, but at the start of the year he made a conscious decision to go out on his own.

“The thing for me was I didn’t want to be bound by a certain way,” he said. “I found I was becoming more dependent on somebody and then that led to questioning myself on the golf course.”

Weir, 44, fired a 3-under 67 on Saturday and held the lead for a stretch on Saturday before bogeys at Nos. 12 and 15 slowed his progress. Still, he’s in a tie for third place, trailing the leaders by one stroke heading into the final round in search of his first victory since the 2007 Frys.com Open. No one is questioning Weir’s player-coach strategy this week.

“I didn’t want to keep asking questions anymore,” he said. “I just wanted to get out there and do it. I had the answers.”

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4. ACING THE TEST: Scottie Scheffler’s week keeps getting better. One day after making the cut in his PGA Tour debut, Scheffler aced the 218-yard, par-3 second hole. Hold the Shiner Bock, though. The kid is only 17. Better make it a Dr. Pepper or RC Cola. Scheffler, the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion, became the fourth amateur since 1983 with a hole-in-one at a Tour event.

Credit his caddie, sister, Callie, 19, who plays golf at Texas A&M, with the assist. “He had 4-iron and I was like, ‘What about 5?’ ”

Scheffler listened to his big sister just as he did when she was on the bag and he made a hole-in-one at the U.S. Amateur last summer.

“I hit it pretty solid and it landed up on top, rolled in,” Scheffler said.

To hear the teen tell it, it was that simple to score the Tour’s sixth ace of the year. Scheffler posted a 1-under 69 for a 54-hole total of 208 (T-38) despite struggling with his putter. He missed three putts from inside 6 feet. Which led Callie to say the best thing about the hole-in-one was “at least he didn’t have to putt.”

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5. SHORT SHOTS: James Hahn birdied fives holes in a row from Nos. 12-16 to shoot 65 and trail the leaders by one stroke. Hahn has just one top-25 finish this year … Gary Woodland carded a 4-under 66 that included a 7 on the par-5 seventh hole. He’s shot one stroke better each round and is tied with Hahn and Weir for third, just one stroke back of the lead … Morgan Hoffmann (68) held a share of the lead on 18 before he tugged his tee shot into the water and made double-bogey …. James Driscoll (66) and Charles Howell III (69) carded the only bogey-free rounds on Saturday. Howell hasn’t made a bogey since the 17th hole on Thursday … Local favorite Jordan Spieth shot himself out of the tournament on Saturday with a 73 for a 54-hole total of 210. “Just was an off day,” he said. “It’s going to happen, just unfortunate here.” … Also heading the wrong way was Tim Herron, who needs to earn $212,444 this week to retain his major medical extension for the rest of the season. He posted 74 and ballooned to T-38.