Ben Martin takes lead despite poor finish at Mylan Classic

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Ben Martin finished his third round at the Mylan Classic Saturday with bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18, but even that disappointing finish to the day wasn't enough to wipe a big smile off his face.

That's because Martin shot a 4-under 67 to seize control of the event at 13 under overall and holds a commanding four-shot lead over Whee Kim and a six-shot lead over Dustin Garza, Brad Elder and I.J. Jang.

Kim began the day in first with a two-shot lead over Martin but missed a couple of opportunities to make birdies early in the round. He then made bogey at Nos. 7, 10 and 13 and finished with a disappointing 2-over 73.

Martin held a six-stroke lead going into the final hole, but he sprayed his second shot wide of the green and had to scramble to make bogey, while Kim sunk a 12-foot putt for birdie.

"It was a pretty good day," Martin said. "It was a little bitter taste after the last two holes, but I have been finishing off the rounds pretty good, so it wasn't like me to bogey the last two coming in. But I can't complain, it was 90 percent good stuff out there [Saturday] for me.

"And I just barely missed the green on both [Nos. 17 and 18], but where I was at on 18 wasn't a very good spot. I was behind the green and so a 5 wasn't a terrible score there.

I enjoyed playing with Whee [Kim], he is a good player, it would have been different for him probably, had he made a few early putts."

Some early rain softened up the course at Southpointe and with only a light breeze blowing, it should have been ideal conditions for scoring.

But that wasn't necessarily the case, as most of the field was even or over par on the day.

"I think [the rain stopped] after about No. 4, it softened things up a bit and that made it a little bit easier," Martin said. "You could score out there [Saturday].

"I was surprised [that he had a four-shot lead] because I just figured it was soft out there, and I thought somebody else who started the day 6 or 7 under would go out and shoot 5 or 6 under [Saturday] and get it to 11 or 12 under."

Martin, who is fourth on the Tour money list with $274,749, has had quite a hot streak lately as he has shot under par in 22 of his past 23 competitive rounds . Seventeen of his past 22 have been at 67 or less.

He already has one win on the tour this year -- he won the United Leasing Championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind., in June -- and he is ranked No. 1 on the tour in birdies with 244 .

Kim said he knows catching Martin is going to be tough, but it isn't impossible, particularly if he can get off to a strong start today with his putter.

"I thought I had very good putting in the morning on the front nine, but they didn't get in," Kim said. "It just kind of happens. I'm fine. Everything was OK but I missed a few shots, it was just tough day."

Although Martin is fourth on the money list, a win at the Mylan Classic would bring him a payday of $121,500 and vault him into second place on the list and leave him only about $34,000 behind Michael Putnam, who missed the cut at Southpointe, for the top spot with three events to play.

But Martin said he is going to miss the next two events, as he is taking a scheduled vacation, so he likely will find himself further behind when he gets to the final regular-season event of the tour -- the Cox Classic Aug. 22-25 in Omaha, Neb.

"I really just enjoy, not so much the finishes, but I just enjoy being out there and having a chance to win, and I think that is why we play the game," Martin said. "Michael has a pretty good lead on the rest of us, but if [I win today], I maybe will have a chance to catch him.

"Really, I'd just like to have an opportunity to catch him in Omaha so [today] is really a part of the process.

Beyond the top five players in the Mylan Classic field, there are five more tied for sixth and still in the hunt at 6 under, but it would take a big day today for any of them to catch Martin.

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Paul Zeise:, Twitter @paulzeise or 412-263-1720. First Published August 4, 2013 4:00 AM


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