With strong winds whipping throughout Barefoot Resorts Pete Dye course reaching 30 MPH, the 28-year-old Hend, one of the longest hitters on Tour, fired a 1-under 70 for a 54-hole total of 4-under 209, one shot better than Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, ON. Jason Enloe (Dallas, TX) and defending champion Scott Ford (Lake Worth, FL) are three shots off the lead. The quartet of Hend, Gillespie, Enloe and Ford are the only players under par after three rounds.
Hend, who finished 9th at the New Zealand Open earlier this year, managed to hit 12 of 14 fairways Saturday after hitting a combined 14 the previous two days.
It doesnt matter, hitting fairways means absolutely nothing, especially on a course like this where you can cut a lot of corners, said Hend, referring to the 7257-yard layout. It all comes down to hitting your greens. You just have to take advantage of the holes when you get the breaks.
With a final-round pairing with Gillespie slated for Sunday, Hend felt that the title is there for the taking but says anyone can come from behind the pack to challenge.
If it blows like it did today, anyone who shoots in the red (under-par) is going to have a chance.
Gillespie, 23, is coming off a second-place showing at last months Scottsdale Swing at Eagle Mountain. On Sunday, he will try to notch his first professional triumph.
Ill just try to keep the ball in play and try to capitalize on the birdie opportunities when they come along, said the 2001 Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year. It is playing tough out there- the wind hasnt blown in the same direction in three days. Its like playing a whole different course. But I am looking forward to Sunday. I have a craving for that first pro win.
On the par-4 final hole, Gillespie drained a 12-foot birdie putt to get him to 3 under. The same couldnt be said for Enloe, who was tied with Hend at 4-under before a triple bogey on the same hole. After hitting his second shot into the water, Enloe then three-putted to drop him to 1-under.
Its disappointing, but I played well all day, he reasoned. Really, it was just one bad swing, but it cost me.
Ford, who won the CanAm Days Championship on the Dye course last year, carded a 5 -under 67. Ford was right on the 4-over cut line following Fridays second round, but took the term moving day to the extreme Saturday.
I dont know what it is about this course, but I seem to like it, admitted the grandson of 1957 Masters champion Doug Ford. But it was so bunched up after the cut, it really is anyones tournament.