Mylan Classic leader eyes win to earn promotion
Cliff Kresge carries a one-shot lead into the final round today of the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Washington County.
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Cliff Kresge is 43, an age where he understands his chances of winning on the PGA Tour are well into the back nine.
But he also knows the most basic of truths: To win on the PGA Tour, you have to play on the PGA Tour. And, right now, the easiest way for Kresge to get back on the PGA Tour, where he played from 2007-10, is to win on the Web.com Tour.
Kresge has put himself in position to do that -- and end a six-year victory drought -- when he takes a one-shot lead into the final round today of the Web.com Tour's Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Washington County.
"I just know I can play at that level," Kresge said after shooting 71 to finish at 12-under 201, one shot ahead of 36-hole leader Brad Fritsch. "If you play at this level, you can play at that level. And I've already done it at that level."
Kresge has three career victories on the Web.com Tour, but his most recent win was in 2006. When he played on the PGA Tour, made only 58 cuts in 103 starts. His best finish was a tie for third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in his hometown of Orlando, Fla.
If Kresge can hold on today, the $108,000 first prize would vault him into the top 10 on the money list and all but assure him of gaining a PGA Tour card as a top-25 money winner. Kresge is currently 53rd on the money list.
"I feel like I have a lot of drive to win on the PGA Tour and the only way to win is to be out there," Kresge said. "I'll keep going till my body doesn't let me anymore."
He might have to play a little more solid than he did in the third round when he hit only six fairways but still managed to hit 16 greens.
But that was nothing compared to the travails of Fritsch, who hit only four fairways -- none after the 10th hole -- and just 10 greens in regulation. But Fritsch used his short game to make a number of dazzling par saves on the back nine by taking only 13 putts.
The only one he didn't save was the final hole, the par-4 18th, when he hit what he called "the best drive in four hours," only to find his ball just inside the hazard line on the right side of the fairway. Fritsch left his approach from the hazard short of the green and failed to get up and down.
That bogey dropped him into a three-way tie with Nicholas Thompson and Robert Streb, a self-avowed Steelers and Penguins fan, at 11-under 202.
"It was crazy some of the places I was hitting it," Fritsch said. "My short game saved me. I'm only one shot out and luckily no one went nuts out there.
"I'm just worn out -- too much short game, not enough easy pars."
One of the players who did go nuts was Jason Allred, 32, who has spent most of the past eight years bouncing from the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour to the Gateway Tour and Canadian Tour. He made seven birdies by leading the field in driving distance (340 yards) and shooting the low round -- 6-under 65 -- on a day when the scoring average (70.567) was the lowest of the three rounds.
Allred is tied at 10-under 203 with Kevin Kisner, who is trying to duplicate what he did in 2010 when he began the final round three shots from the lead and shot 67 to win his only Web.com Tour event.
After a poor tee shot that led to a bogey at No. 9, Kisner put himself in position for another final-round run by making four birdies and shooting a back-nine 32 to post 66.
"I figured I would have to get to double digits to have a chance," Kisner said. "I didn't really know what the leaders were doing until 17 and I saw he was only 13 under. If he didn't get too far out of reach, I thought I'd have a shot."
Then there is the case of hometown favorite Steve Wheatcroft, a Trinity High School graduate and one-time bag-room employee at Southpointe. Wheatcroft had to make six birdies on the back nine to shoot 69 and finish at 4-under 209. In three rounds, Wheatcroft is 7 over on the front, 11 under on the back.
"I can't figure out the front nine," Wheatcroft said. "I can't find any birdies out there."
The same could have been said for John Chin, who began his round with bogeys at Nos. 2, 3 and 7. But Chin, a tour rookie, closed out the front side with eagles at Nos. 8 and 9 -- the first back-to-back eagles in tournament history.
Chin turned the trick by hitting a 7-iron from 185 yards to 15 feet at the 540-yard eighth, then holing a gap wedge from 127 yards at the par-4 ninth. Not surprisingly, it was the first time Chin (70) recorded back-to-back eagles.
NOTES -- Adam Long had the third hole in one of the tournament when he aced the 125-yard fifth hole, using a pitching wedge. ... Because of the forecast, tee times for the final round today have been moved up. The final threesome will tee off at 9:50 a.m.
First Published September 2, 2012 12:00 am