Published November 20, 2014
Brian Davis fired a 6-under 64 on Saturday to grab a share of first place after three rounds of the Travelers Championship.
Davis' performance moved him to 12-under-par 198 after 54 holes, and he was joined in the lead by Roland Thatcher, who carded a 5-under 65.
"It's been a really good three rounds, obviously one more to go, and it's a really packed leaderboard up there," Thatcher said.
The leading duo holds a two-stroke advantage over John Rollins (65), James Driscoll (66) and Stuart Appleby (67). They are tied for third at minus-10.
The Travelers got back on track Saturday, when half the field needed to finish round two after stormy weather caused the suspension of play Friday. Some players even needed to play 36 holes, but without interruption, everybody got through his third round at TPC River Highlands.
Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson was the leader when play was suspended Friday. He got in his second round and was sitting at minus-9, but managed a round of just even-par 70 on Saturday and shares sixth place with five others. Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (65), Players Championship winner Matt Kuchar (66), Tim Clark (66), Charley Hoffman (67) and Will Claxton (69) are also sitting at 9-under.
Davis and Thatcher both had the benefit of needing to play just 18 holes Saturday, and they took advantage of the opportunity.
Davis was playing in the third-to-last group off the first tee, and got off to an extremely strong start. He birdied his first two holes thanks to strong approaches that left him with 7- and 8-foot birdie putts.
The Englishman, who last won on the PGA Tour at the 2004 ANZ Championship, ran off two more birdies soon after. He made a 14-foot putt at the par-4 fourth hole, then stuffed his tee shot within six feet at the par-3 fifth and rolled in the birdie chance.
That pushed him to minus-10, and he wasn't done yet. He drained a 13-footer at seven, and knocked in a short birdie putt at the eighth to reach 12-under.
Davis didn't have the same kind of excellent play on the back nine, where he recorded one bogey and one birdie. But the front-nine 29 ended up being enough to get him a share of the lead.
"It was one of those things where you had the rhythm, you were playing and you just kept going," Davis said of his front nine. "We hit the back nine and the wind's picked up, and all of a sudden it was two groups on every tee coming it. Sort of lost some momentum a little bit."
Thatcher joined him there later in his round. He teed off in the group following Davis' and made three birdies on his front nine, which put him at 10-under heading around the turn.
The 35-year-old, who has never won on the PGA Tour, moved past Davis thanks to three consecutive birdies from the 13th. However, his tee shot found the rough at the 17th, where he eventually missed a seven-footer for par. The bogey knocked him back down into a tie with Davis.
Still, Thatcher finds himself in a good and slightly unusual position. He has missed the cut in eight of 11 starts this year, and his best finish was a tie for 12th at the Puerto Rico Open in March.
Rollins might have joined the leaders if it wasn't for a few mistakes he made Saturday. He poured in eight birdies, but also had a double bogey at eight and a bogey at 12.
But if Saturday proved anything, it's that one run can be enough to put you in contention. Case in point is Harrington, who was far down the leaderboard before making seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch from the sixth. Likewise, Kuchar was sitting at minus-4 before making five birdies in his final seven holes.
And with so many players going on runs, that stretch of good golf almost becomes a necessity. Sitting in place simply isn't good enough, as shown by Jacobson, who birdied three of four holes from the sixth to get to 11-under. But he followed that stretch with a double bogey, and had two birdies canceled out by two bogeys later in his round.
Masters winner Bubba Watson (65), Robert Karlsson (66) and Camilo Villegas (70) share 12th place at minus-8.
Webb Simpson, last week's U.S. Open champion, is another stroke back at minus-7 after carding a 68. He is tied for 16th with Brandt Jobe (64) and Brendon de Jonge (66).
NOTES: After 88 players made the initial cut, the tournament made a secondary cut Saturday. Eighteen players will not play Sunday, including first-round leader David Mathis, who opened with a 64 before carding rounds of 73 and 74.