Collins Takes Over Top Spot at Xerox Classic


2006 Xerox ClassicROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Steve Collins fired a 4-under 66 on Saturday to move into the lead through three rounds of the Xerox Classic. He stands at 7-under-par 203 and is one ahead at Irondequoit Country Club.
David Hearn and Jarrod Lyle each posted 3-under 67s in round three and joined Glen Day and Boo Weekley, who both shots 68s on Saturday, in second place. The group is knotted at 6-under-par 204.
Irondequoit played slightly easier on Saturday compared to the first two rounds. Every player in the top 17 broke par in Saturday's third round with the exception of two.
Collins began the third round tied for seventh place and opened with three birdies in his first five holes. He double-bogeyed the seventh hole, but rebounded with a birdie at eight and a short birdie putt at the ninth.
He took the lead for the championship at the 10th and it certainly did not appear to be headed in that direction. Collins drove into the trees on the right side, but ran his second up to 60 feet. He drained the long birdie putt to move to seven-under par.
Collins once again moved into sole possession of the lead at minus-8 thanks to a birdie at the 12th. He lost first place by himself when his 7-iron tee ball came up short and right at the 15th. His best effort saw the ball roll 10 feet by the cup and the Australian missed the par-saving putt.
It did not take Collins long to reclaim the lead. He birdied the 16th to get back to 8 under par, but his flat stick let him down one hole later. Collins three-putted for a bogey from 20 feet at the 17th, including a missed a two-footer for par.
He seemed to have problems at the difficult closing hole as his second came up short and left of the putting surface. Instead of pitching right of the hole toward the center of the green, Collins pitched left of the flag and watched the ball roll a foot from the hole. He tapped in for par and his first 54-hole lead on tour.
'I got the putter rolling and hit a few good iron shots in close and low and behold, eight birdies. It was great,' said Collins, who is 82nd on the Nationwide Tour money list. 'It's nice to be playing well.'
Collins is winless on the Nationwide Tour and his biggest victory as a professional came at the 2002 New South Wales Masters in Australia. On Sunday, Collins thinks he knows what it will take to hoist the trophy.
'You have to draw back on experience,' said Collins. 'I have to keep my emotions together and stay committed to a lot of good shots. That's all I can really do. There are players out there that can shoot some good scores. I'll just concentrate on what I can do.'
Craig Kanada (66) and Brenden Pappas (67) are tied for sixth place at minus- 5.
Matthew Jones (67), Hiroshi Matsuo (67), Ryan Armour (68), Kevin Stadler (69) and Monday qualifier Chris Baryla (69) are knotted in eighth place at 4-under-par 206.
Overnight leader Richard Johnson struggled in Saturday's third round. He shot a 3-over-par 73 and is part of a group that shares 13th place at 3-under-par 207.
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