Steven Bowditch protected his lead Saturday at the Valero Texas Open, and carries a three-shot lead into the final round at TPC San Antonio. Here’s what You Oughta Know as the Aussie looks to close out his first career victory:
• Bowditch is making his 110th start on the PGA Tour, but he doesn’t have much experience at the top of the leaderboard. The 30-year-old has never before held a 54-hole lead, and his lone top-10 finish since 2012 came at the Greenbrier Classic last summer, where he tied for second.
•Bowditch has not been the most accurate player tee-to-green this week, but his short game has been a huge key to his success. He has reached just 34 of 54 greens in regulation – including just 8/18 GIR in the third round – but is tied for fourth in scrambling this week, a stat helped by a pair of chip-ins Saturday.
• Kuchar moved up the leaderboard with a third-round 65, and he’ll play in the final group as he looks for his first win since the Memorial last summer. Kuchar’s 61 career top-10 finishes dwarf the combined total of his two nearest competitors, Bowditch (2) and Andrew Loupe (0).
• Loupe is making just his ninth start on the PGA Tour, and made it past the cut this week for only the third time. He will begin the final round tied with Kuchar, three shots off the pace, as he looks to improve upon his best prior finish, a tie for 12th earlier this month at the Puerto Rico Open.
• Two players will be watching the final-round leaderboard with OWGR calculations in mind. Ryan Palmer is currently No. 62 in the world rankings, and likely needs a top-three finish to crack the top 50 and earn a spot at the Masters. Palmer will start Sunday tied for eighth, seven shots behind Bowditch.
• Like Palmer, Chesson Hadley can earn a Masters berth without a victory. Hadley is currently No. 56 in the rankings and needs a top-seven finish this week to punch his ticket. He is tied for 14th through three rounds at 3 under.
• Jordan Spieth will tee off alongside Hadley in a tie for 14th, a prospect that seemed highly unlikely Thursday afternoon. Spieth played his first seven holes in 6 over, but bounced back to card a 3-over 75. He’s followed with rounds of 70 and 68, and were it not for his rocky opener, Spieth could be a factor on the leaderboard.
• Nerves could be on full display in the final round as many of the leaders look to secure both a win and a trip to the Masters. Of the seven players within six shots of the lead, only Kuchar is already in the field at the season’s first major, and the other six players have combined for two total PGA Tour victories. Each of the past three years, the Valero champion has played the Masters solely on the merit of his win in San Antonio.