By Stephens Hawkins
The Associated Press
IRVING, Texas — Keegan Bradley still hasn’t gotten things right on the 18th hole at the Byron Nelson Championship, even when finally going left.
The bogeys on the closing hole at TPC Four Seasons haven’t cost him the lead yet.
Bradley overcame consecutive bogeys early and bogeyed No. 18 for the third round in a row Saturday to finish with a 2-under 68 that kept him in the lead.
“(Sunday) is the day. Right down the middle,” Bradley said about that last hole. “I’m due!”
Bradley’s 13-under 197 total gave him a one-stroke lead over Sang-Moon Bae, who had his third consecutive 66. Tom Gillis was two strokes back after a 67.
After going way right off the tee at No. 18 the first two rounds, Bradley smashed his drive Saturday down the left side toward the water. The ball stayed dry, but settled behind a large rock and forced him to punch back into the fairway. His approach settled on the front edge of the green and he almost saved par — the ball rolled just over the lip of the cup.
“I thought I made the putt, which would have been exciting,” he said. “But 5 on that hole from where I hit it off the tee is a pretty good score.”
On Sunday, Bradley will be trying to win at TPC Four Seasons for the second time in three years. He could also become the Nelson’s first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson led alone at the end of all four rounds in 1980.
“Should be easier than having to come from behind,” he said. “I have felt comfortable out there, haven’t felt nervous. I feel like I put the time in, I feel like this is where I should be when I play well is near the lead or in the lead.”
Bradley got his first PGA Tour victory as a rookie at the Nelson two years ago. He followed that by winning the PGA Championship later that season and the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in 2012. The nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley came from behind on the final day for all of those wins.
After following his opening course-record 60 with a 69 on Friday, Bradley started the third round with a three-stroke lead. He stayed alone at top of the leaderboard throughout.
Scott Piercy’s 66 matched Bae and three others for the best round on a breezy Texas day. Piercy was fourth at 10 under, two strokes ahead of Gary Woodland (68), Harris English (68), John Huh (69) and 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel (69).
When 83 players made the cut of even par, there were threesomes instead of traditional twosomes for the third round. That put Bradley in the same group with Bae and Gillis, who started the round tied for second place.
A secondary cut trimmed the field to 72 players for the final round, when Bradley plays with Bae in the final group. Gillis is paired with Piercy.
“Keegan is playing pretty good, but you got to play ‘em all, see how it shakes out,” said Gillis, who missed the cuts in his previous five tournaments.