Van Pelt Hanging On in Puerto Rico

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PGA Tour (75x100)RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Bo Van Pelt held on to his lead'barely'at the Puerto Rico Open on Saturday and moved a step closer to his first PGA TOUR victory.
 
Van Pelt shot a 1-under 71 at Trump International Golf Club to finish in front at 13-under. But theres no shortage of challengers just as eager as Van Pelt for a tour victory in this inaugural event.
 
Briny Baird (69) and Greg Kraft (69) were one back, while Brenden Pappas (69) was two behind.
 
Jerry Kelly (73), Marco Dawson (69) and Tommy Armour III (67) were tied at 10-under, with Ryan Blaum (72) and Ted Purdy (73) another shot behind.
 
Van Pelt decided late to play in the TOUR's first visit to the island'he usually takes weeks opposite World Golf Championship events like this one off to relax and recharge.
 
Van Pelts schedule change has worked so far.
 
He opened here Thursday with a 64, his lowest round in nine months, and continued his near flawless play with a 68 on Friday. He looked ready to keep that going early in the third round with birdies on two of his first five holes, opening a three-shot lead.
 
Thats when Van Pelts game stalled, particularly his putter.
 
He slid a testy 10-footer by on No. 9 for a bogey, then dropped into a tie for the top with Pappas after a bogey on the 14th hole.
 
Van Pelt rallied back down the stretch, rolling in a 10-foot birdie try on the 16th to regain the lead. He had a chance to extend his margin on the 18th, but missed a 12-foot birdie try.
 
Van Pelt, 32, has only had one victory on the Nationwide Tour since turning pro in 1998 but is one of the steadiest performers'hes earned more than $1.3 million each of the past four seasons.
 
The group behind him have rarely, if ever, enjoyed a PGA TOUR win in their careers.
 
Bairds never done better than second. Krafts only win came in 1993. Pappas, Blaum and Dawson are all non winners. Both of Kellys career wins came in 2002 while Armour IIIs last victory was 2003.
 

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