Leaderboard Tightens Up at Futures Tour Event
And at only one shot back at 137 are Sarah Lynn Johnston (67) of St. Charles, Ill., and Perry Swenson (70) of Charlotte, N.C. Johnston's hot putter needed only 24 strokes, while Swenson hit 16 greens and threatened to break away all day. But that pair is trailed by the trio of Chiharu Yamaguchi (67) of Tochigi, Japan, Alena Sharp (69) of Hamilton, Ontario, and Stephanie George (71) of Myerstown, Pa. -- all tied at 6-under-par 138 at Lost Creek Country Club.
'There are a lot of great players within two shots of the lead,' said Swenson, a rookie from the University of Texas playing in her third tournament as a pro. 'Really, anybody is in it because the scores are so tight.'
And tight it was all day with more lead changes than Tour veteran Kelly Cap cares to remember. Cap charged to the lead with consecutive birdies on holes 11 and 12, but tumbled down the leaderboard with a triple-bogey-7 on the par-4 15th hole. Cap encountered a tricky downhill lie that squirted under a tree. A flop shot and three putts later from 50 feet, and suddenly, Cap had left the door open.
'It was kind of a kick in the gut today,' said the player from Youngstown , Ohio , who dropped back to 140 (-4) with her 1-over-par round of 73 today.
But while Cap was struggling to dig herself out of trouble, Gleason was gunning for a number to put on the leaderboard. The second-year pro posted a 67, rained in three consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13, and then, as if to tell her peers that 'the little kid' means business, the petite pro drained a 25-foot putt on the 18th hole for the clubhouse lead.
'I knew I was playing well and the cup looked really big today,' said Gleason, 24, who played college golf at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro . 'Even though this course is short, you have to hit it well off the tee. You have a lot of wedges in your hands out here, but you still have to dial them in.'
Downey and Turner, who grew up playing amateur golf together in upstate New York , had their own little match play today in the same pairing. The two chased each other throughout the round, with Downey scoring birdies on two of her last three holes and Turner rolling in birdie putts on 17 and 18. Both posted scores of four-under-par 68.
'It was fun to play with Danielle because we had never played together as professionals until this week,' said Turner, 27, in her fifth Futures Tour season.
But make no mistake. The field knows this year's title is up for grabs and Sunday's final round is an invitation for a slugfest. Only three shots off the lead is a hard-chasing group of four players tied at 139 (-5) that includes Nicole Castrale (70) of Palm Desert, Calif., who is seeking a third consecutive win this season, former Ohio State All-American Allison Hanna (70) of Portland, Ore., 2004 winner Naree Song (71) of Seoul, Korea and rookie Becky Berzonski (67) of Erie, Pa., a recent grad of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Birdies are abundant on the 5,973-yard course that features tight fairways and small greens. And eagles are always accessible to big hitters who manage themselves wisely, as evidenced by the two opening shots of rookie Ashley Prange of Noblesville, Ind., who went eagle-eagle, fired a 6-under-par 66, and charged into a nine-way tie at 4-under-par 140. With 25 players scoring in the 60s today -- including fourth-ranked Kyeong Bae of Seoul , Korea , who matched Prange's low round of 66 -- low scores tend to shift the leaderboard on a regular basis.
Still, Downey is hoping her best round is yet to come on Sunday.
'To win this in 54 holes would prove a point,' said Downey , who won the 2004 rain-shortened Lima tournament in 36 holes. 'I don't want to be a one-tournament wonder.'
Seventy-nine players made the 36-hole cut at 147 (+3), the season's lowest cut.
Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 12:20 p.m.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18