Kaye In Positon For First PGA Tour Victory


Cromwell, CT - Jonathan Kaye birdied three of the final six holes Saturday en route to a five-under 65 and a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Greater Hartford Open. The 31-year-old Kaye, who has played full time on the PGA Tour since 1998, finished at 13-under-par 197 and will take the lead into a final round for the first time in his career.
'I'll go out and just keep doing what I've been doing,' he said. 'It would be a dream come true, you know, to win on the Tour.'
Alone in second at 12-under 198 was Scott Verplank, who reeled off six straight birdies on the back nine and posted a seven-under 63 to match the low round of the tournament. Scott Hoch survived a shaky finish to shoot a 66 for third place at 11-under, while Davis Love III was three strokes off the pace after a 68.
'I had some bounces that didn't go my way, so I left enough out there for tomorrow,' said Love, a co-leader after two rounds with Kaye and Briny Baird.
Kaye rolled in a 20-foot putt at the ninth hole to complete the front side at the TPC at River Highlands in two-under 33. The birdie moved him to 10-under and he remained there for the next few holes despite a poor tee shot at the par-four 10th.
'I lost my concentration and sprayed one out to the right and it hit the snack bar there in the trees, about a yard from out of bounds,' he explained. 'Then I hacked out a six-iron from 150 (yards) to about four feet for par.'
Kaye, using a new set of Cleveland irons this week, knocked a four-iron pin- high at the par-five 13th, then chipped to four feet to set up a birdie. He sank a six-foot birdie putt at the 15th and a two-footer at the 17th for the outright lead.
With a chance to widen the gap heading into the final day, Kaye just missed a 10-foot birdie attempt at the 18th.
'I'm not going to dwell on that,' said Kaye, a three-time runner-up on the PGA Tour.
Verplank, selected as a captain's pick by Curtis Strange for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, tallied birdies at 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 with putts in the three- to 10-foot range.
'When you kind of get rolling like that, you just basically try to get out of your own way,' said Verplank, who fired a course-record-tying 61 in the final round of last year's GHO. 'I was hitting some nice solid shots and leaving myself with putts.'
The birdie run ended when Verplank drove into a fairway bunker at the 18th. He came up short of the green when he caught his next shot heavy out of the sand, but chipped to six feet and holed the putt to save par.
Hoch made six birdies over the first 13 holes Saturday to claim the lead at 12-under. But his lay-up drive at the 296-yard 15th hole found a fairway bunker and his second shot rolled off the front of the green. Hoch's pitch checked up way short and he three-putted from there for a double-bogey six.
Although he recovered one of the lost strokes with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 16th, Hoch pushed his tee shot into the water at 17 and took a bogey. He capped his see-saw finish with a birdie at the 18th, where he stuffed his approach to two feet.
'Should be leading, but threw away some shots at the end,' said Hoch, who last year became the first player age 45 or older to win twice in the same season since Hale Irwin in 1990.
Full field scores from the Canon Greater Hartford Open