Villegas Remains Atop Nationwide Event

By Sports NetworkMay 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
04 Rheem ClassicFORT SMITH, Ark. -- Camilo Villegas only managed an even-par 70 on Saturday, but is the third-round leader at the Rheem Classic. He completed 54 holes at 10-under-par 200 and is one ahead at Hardscrabble Country Club.
Jason Schultz posted a 4-under 66 in round three and is alone in second place at minus-9. Fran Quinn fired a 7-under 63 and is tied for third place with Aaron Barber, who shot a 4-under 66. The duo is knotted at 8-under-par 202.
Villegas, a Monday qualifier, was 1 under par on his round through six holes. The putter let him down at the end of his front nine as he missed a pair of 7-foot putts for par at eight and nine.
Schultz caught Villegas with a birdie at 11, but Villegas, who held a three-stroke lead at the midway point of the tournament, responded. Villegas two-putted for birdie from 50 feet at the par-5 11th. Schultz once again drew even with a 4-footer for birdie at the 13th, but Villegas rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt of his own at 12 to move one clear.
Villegas hit a spectacular approach at the 14th that stopped 7 feet short of the hole. Unfortunately, the University of Florida product three-putted for a bogey. He also missed a short par putt at 16 to fall behind Schultz, who was making pars.
Schultz ran into a balky putter of his own at 17 as he missed a 7-foot save. Villegas ran home a 5-foot birdie putt later at the same hole to move one ahead.
'It was a tough day out there,' said Villegas, a two-time winner on the Hooters Tour. 'I have to work on my putting. I just happened to push a couple at the end.'
If Villegas finishes in a two-way tie for third or better, he will earn enough money to become a member of the Nationwide Tour. While it would be nice to have status, Villegas is looking to hoist the trophy on Sunday.
'I'm going to play to win,' said Villegas, whose best finish on tour is a tie for second at this year's BellSouth Panama Championship. 'I'll do my best to try and run away with it. I have to do what I've been doing all week. Make a couple of birdies and see what happens.'
Schultz tallied five birdies over his first 13 holes, but then played consistently until the mishap at 17. Like Villegas, Schultz can collect his first win on the Nationwide Tour.
'I feel like I've played well all year,' said Schultz. 'I'm getting better. I haven't put it all together yet. Hopefully, I'll put it together tomorrow.'
Kyle Thompson (65) and Troy Matteson (67) are tied for fifth place at minus- 7. Richard S. Johnson (64), Nick Cassini (67), Dave Christensen (68) and Brian Kortan (69) share seventh place at 6-under-par 204.
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