Byrd takes a one-stroke lead to final 18CHARLOTTE – Once the fog cleared, Jonathan Byrd emerged with the lead on the strength of a back-nine 31 that included five birdies and no bogeys. On a day that was stalled for one hour and 30 minutes because of dense fog, Byrd cruised to a 5 under 67 to finish 54 holes at 15 under 201. He will go to the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship with a one-stroke lead over Pat Perez. Byrd leads by three over Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover, and stands four clear of Andres Romero, Kevin Na and Bill Haas.
In one stretch of nine holes (Nos. 7 through 15), Byrd carded seven birdies and following the round he spoke about the run.
“They said the seven out of nine birdies, nine-hole stretch, in the interview, and my response was, ‘Wow, I did that?’ I didn't really realize it was going that good there for a while. I was pretty shaky starting off, didn't feel real comfortable out there. I've played with Phil before; he's a great player. The environment is pretty distracting. Man, people were excited we were out there playing today. Charlotte was pretty rocking and rolling out there, and I just had a hard time settling down.
“And then made some good swings kind of middle late of the front nine, and that kind of settled me down, and I kind of just relaxed and started enjoying it a little more,” added Byrd. “And then just was real calm on the back nine, just kind of taking each hole in stride and just trying to react and be athletic out there.”
Byrd is looking for his second win of the year after having taken the title at the season-opening Hyundai Championship in Maui.
Perez on the other hand is seeking to win his second career title on the PGA Tour. He had a key birdie at the treacherous par-3 17th that help him stay within a shot of Byrd.
“When I saw Bill (Haas) hit 8 (iron), I couldn't believe he got 8 past that flag,” Perez explained. “We figured it was about 175 (yards) and I wasn't going to hit it. I thought there's no way I can get that 8 over that bunker, so I just kind of hit a -- I tried to rotate my body as fast as possible so I could just kind of hold that 7, hit it a little higher so it had a little more spin on it, hit it about 90 percent. It was pulled a little bit, the face was moving left because I wasn't going at that flag, I was going right up the middle, and I looked up, and I knew once I hit it it was left but it was straight, so I knew it was going to be perfect.”
It was perfect as he hit it to just over five-feet and made the putt for a rare birdie at that hole.
There were a few big movers on Saturday, including Andres Romero and Kevin Na (67s, -11), and J.B. Holmes (65, -9).
Players at all three Tour stops (PGA Tour/Wells Fargo Championship, Champions Tour/Regions Tradition and Nationwide Tour/Stadion Classic at UGA) wore black ribbons on Saturday to honor Seve Ballesteros, who passed away Saturday morning.
In memory of Ballesteros, the three tours will suspend play on Sunday for one minute at 3:08 p.m. Eastern Time.
“He was a great man, not only on the golf course but off the golf course,” said Vijay Singh. “Very, very sad to hear about his passing. I think not only people that knew him through golf, but everybody that knew him through what he did for golf, I think it's a great loss, and he'll be missed.”
Singh added, “I mean, you don't really know what he did for golf, in Europe especially. He's gone, but his memory is going to stay forever. There's so many great memories from everybody. I was watching Nick Faldo today, and the memory that he had, when Seve and he hugged in I think it was '93 and '95, and it was unbelievable. There were tears in everybody's eyes. That's the kind of person he was. He had a lot of emotion.”
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