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Bradley clings to PGA lead with Bae on his heels

AFP
ANALYST
Modified 19 May 2013, 11:07 IST
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IRVING, Texas (AFP) –

Keegan Bradley hits a shot during the third round of the Byron Nelson Championship on May 18, 2013 in Irving, Texas

Keegan Bradley hits a shot during the third round of the Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort on May 18, 2013 in Irving, Texas. Bradley, trying to win the Byron Nelson Championship for the second time in three years, fired a two-under par 68 Saturday and clung to a one-stroke lead over South Korea’s Bae Sang-Moon.

Keegan Bradley, trying to win the Byron Nelson Championship for the second time in three years, fired a two-under par 68 Saturday and clung to a one-stroke lead over South Korea’s Bae Sang-Moon.

In windy conditions at the par-70 TPC Four Seasons Resort course, Bradley closed with a bogey for the third round in a row but the American still stood atop the leaderboard on 13-under 197 with Bae on 198 after a third 66 in a row.

“I’m playing really well,” Bradley said. “I’m proud of how I played the last two days, and I’m happy with where I’m sitting.”

Bradley won his first US PGA title at the 2011 Byron Nelson and went on to win the 2011 PGA Championship in his first major appearance.

Bradley could become first wire-to-wire winner at the Byron Nelson since 1980, when Tom Watson won the event for a record fourth time by capturing his third Byron Nelson title in a row. Mark Hayes also did it in 1976.

American Tom Gillis was third on 199 after concluding his round of 67 with a 45-foot birdie chip-in from a greenside bunker, with compatriot Scott Piercy fourth on 200 after a 66 that featured several long birdie putts.

“It was hard to get the ball close to the holes with those crosswinds,” he said. “I was fortunate to be rolling it well. You just have to hit solid shots, reach the fairway and put it on the green somewhere.”

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was in a group sharing fifth on 202 that included Americans Harris English, John Huh and Gary Woodland. Australian Nathan Green was alone in ninth on 203.

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Bradley sank an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-4 third but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at the par-3 fifth and par-4 sixth, although he answered with birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-4 ninth.

Bradley sank a 34-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th and added another at the par-5 16th, but stumbled again at the final hole.

After nearly finding water left off the 18th tee, Bradley was forced to pitch out from behind a rock into the fairway, then came up short of the green on his approach and ran his 24-foot par putt just past the hole.

Bae, who has won 11 times worldwide but has never won a US PGA event, began with back-to-back birdies before taking his lone bogey at the par-3 fifth. He added birdies at the par-4 eighth, par-3 13th and 16th to keep the pressure on Bradley.

Published 19 May 2013, 11:07 IST
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