Griff Kuehne Share Lead at Texas Challenge


All through Saturdays third round of the Texas Challenge, Canadian Darren Griff heard the cheers for defending U.S. Amateur champion Hank Kuehne behind him. On Sunday, he will get a chance to hear them first-hand.
Playing one group ahead of Kuehne, the 30-year-old Griff fired a course record 8-under 64, one shot better than the previous Circle C Ranch best, for a 54-hole total of 205 and is atop the leaderboard with the 1998 U.S. Am king. Griff, Kuehne and Steve Runge (-9) will make up the final group Sunday. Four others are at 8-under 208.
With cool temperatures and a tricky wind enveloping the 6,859-yard layout Saturday, Griff, who has two second-place showings in his Canadian Tour career, hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation en route to a bogey-free round. In fact, Griff has hit 81.5 percent of his greens over the first three days.
I hit my irons well all day, although my driver was a bit sketchy at times, said the 1994 B.C. Amateur champion, who was the top Canadian at the 2002 Panasonic Panama Open (T18). I made my putts on the back nine, but I missed some chances on the first seven or eight holes.
Griff vaulted into top spot on the par-5 14th hole when his 25-footer found the bottom of the cup for eagle. He followed that up with back-to-back birdies to put the record within reach.
In the final round, Griff will be paired with Kuehne, who had quite a cheering section in his gallery Saturday.
We were joking that it was like Jack (Nicklaus) at Augusta with that following Hank had, laughed Griff. The good thing was we always knew in a hurry when he had made birdie. So, I guess its going to be Hank and the Fat Man should be a lot of fun. If youre not looking forward to something like that, you shouldnt be playing this game.
Kuehnes effort Saturday was a complete reversal from last weeks third round of the Texas Classic in Houston. On that day, he was 4-under through his first ten holes to move into top spot before faltering down the stretch and winding up with a 3-over 75. He bounced back on Sunday with a 64 to finish tied for second in his first Tour start.
Yeah, its a little different than last week, isnt it? mused Kuehne after playing the par-4s at 4-under Saturday. It was just a good, consistent round today. Ive been striking the ball very well, and that is a good sign.
Kuehne reeled off six consecutive birdies beginning on the par-5 7th hole. Despite the birdie binge, Kuehne admitted his shot of the day was from the bunker on the par-3 13th, when he blasted out to within six inches of the pin.
One of the longest hitters in the world, Kuehne, 26, said his distance off the tee could sometimes result in a disadvantage.
I played the par 5s 1-under today, and that is very frustrating to me. Power is a great asset, but I have to be more in control of my driver. If you go offline here, the ball is just going to keep rolling and rolling. I want to stay aggressive, but at times I need to show some restraint.
Full-field scores from the Texas Challenge