A day after Scott Stallings' caddie asked him if 'we could break 80,' he jumps near AT&T Byron Nelson lead

The game slowed down for Scott Stallings during Friday's round at the Byron Nelson, but it picked up on Saturday.

A day after Scott Stallings' caddie asked him if 'we could break 80,' he jumps near AT&T Byron Nelson lead

MCKINNEY, Texas — The game seemed to slow down for Scott Stallings during Friday’s second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson. Usually, when a pro athlete makes that proclamation, it means things have come into focus.

When Stallings, who once had sinus surgery, makes that statement, it’s because he’s in a fog after treating his allergies.

“I tried a different sinus medication yesterday, and after about seven holes my caddie looked at me and said, ‘You think we could break 80?’ ” Stallings said. “So with all the cottonwood and everything blowing around here, after my sinus surgery it kind of messes with me a little bit. So I tried a different one. Thought I was getting used to it.”

He finished the second round with a 71, well back of the leaders.

Conversely, whatever Stallings took prior to the third round he should stick with. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts and later an all-state golfer in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Stallings got red hot on Saturday, posting six consecutive birdies starting on the fifth hole en route to a 63 that pushed him temporarily into second place at TPC Craig Ranch.

Stallings sits at 15 under heading into Sunday’s final round, and he’ll be looking to break a PGA Tour drought that goes back to 2014, when he won the Farmers Insurance Open.

Although the course is getting gobbled up a bit by PGA Tour players — the field was more than a combined 900 under par by midday on Saturday — Stallings is feeling fortunate to be in such a position. Halfway through his round on Friday, he was just 1 under.

“Yeah, there is a lot of birdie opportunities out there still. Both the short holes guys can get close to the green. All the par-5s are in great spots for birdies and eagles,” he said. “There are some good pin locations out there. Some par-3s, 17 is super tough and be in between number for most guys. But these guys are great. Just because it’s windy doesn’t mean anything. The golf course is set up great and it’s still soft. I expect this course to improve.”

One key to Stallings’ success is his ability to make putts of late. On Saturday he needed just 23 total putts, and boasted 111 feet in putts holed. He entered the week 134th on the Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting.

“I’ve been working hard. My caddie (Jon Yarbrough) and my short game coach, Tim, after Hilton Head kind of had … and especially with Zurich, kind of all came together,” he said. “But I just tried to learn week in, week out. I’ve gained every week since I started doing it and feel a lot more comfortable on the greens.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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AT&T Byron Nelson: Jordan Spieth in contention to win his hometown event

The Texan is T-3 and in position to earn his best finish at the Tour's stop in Dallas.

AT&T Byron Nelson: Jordan Spieth in contention to win his hometown event

A decade after his coming out party at the AT&T Byron Nelson as a 16-year-old prodigy, Jordan Spieth is in position to win his hometown tournament for the first time.

Or, if nothing less, perhaps record his first top-10 finish in his 10th attempt at this tournament where in 2010 he finished T-16. Amazingly, he’s never done better, but this could be the year. Spieth finished off a third-round 6-under 66 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, in dramatic fashion, sinking a putt from 31 feet off the green for eagle to climb into a share of third place at 17-under 199, three strokes behind leader Sam Burns (69) and two behind South Korea’s K.H. Lee (67).

“When it got on the green, I thought, ‘Wow, if it has enough, it’s going to get there and it’s going to be electric’ and 4 feet to go I thought it was going to go in,” said Spieth, who lifted his putter to the sky in early celebration.

AT&T Byron Nelson: Leaderboard | Photos

On the day of the Preakness Stakes triple crown race, Spieth was slow out of the gate, making par on his first five holes, including a three-putt par from 64 feet at the par-5 fifth. But then he made his move, recording birdies on four of his next five holes. Just when he seemed poise to make another of his patented Saturday charges, Spieth lost his footing, though he opted for a car racing metaphor.

“I was leaking oil the last few holes,” he said.

Two bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 – the first when he hung his tee shot at the par 3 to the right and failed to get up and down and the latter the result of an uncharacteristic three-putt from 17 feet – dropped him back to 15 under and four strokes back at the time.

Spieth battled a misbehaving putter on Friday, losing nearly a stroke and half to the field on the greens. So, he made an adjustment in his setup for the third round, widening his stance and bending over slightly more. The results were mixed. He took 29 putts on Saturday and lost ground to the field again (-0.385).

“I opened up a little bit and got worried on a couple missing left, so I ended up pushing them right,” he said. “If I was putting as well as I do in tournaments that I win, we would have a number of strokes better right now. Hopefully I can make up for that tomorrow.”

He got a head start with the eagle at 18 after sending his second at the par 5 just over the green. Putting through the Zoysia grass had given him fits earlier in the round. Not this time. His latest magic act sent the hometown fans into a frenzy.

“Once it got on the green, it looked good,” Spieth said. “Started the putter raise and I wasn’t positive it was going in because the angle it was coming in at. I wanted to do the no look to the crowd, but, I mean, it was a really cool moment.”

Spieth’s eagle erased the two late bogeys in one fell swoop, climbing into a tie for third with Matt Kuchar (66), Sweden’s Alex Noren (70) and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel (66).

Spieth still has ground to make up if he’s going to vault past Lee, who is seeking his first PGA Tour title, and Burns, who is trying to win in back-to-back starts. Burns followed up his sizzling 62 on Friday with a workmanlike 3-under 69, which his caddie, Travis Perkins, reminded him wasn’t too shabby at all.

“I told him, ‘Man, I didn’t really have my best stuff today’ and just left a few out there. He’s like, ‘Yeah, but it’s hard to follow up what happened yesterday. It’s important to remember that.’ ”

Spieth, who has won 12 times including three majors since his debut at the Byron Nelson as a teen sensation, knows he’ll have to keep going low to have a chance to win for the second time in his native Texas this year. (He won the Valero Texas Open last month.)

“It’s one of those rounds you want to control your own destiny,” he said of Sunday’s finale at TPC Craig Ranch, “but looks like I’ll be three back, and so you just got to go low or hope that Sam doesn’t go as low, right?”

About as right as his hole-out at 18.

Source : Golf Week More   

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