Seneca, SC April 27, 2013 – As Justin Lower emerged from the scoring area on Saturday afternoon, a fellow competitor in the Mountain Lakes Classic asked him if he had just birdied Nos. 16, 17 and 18. After Lower responded, “Yeah,” his competition replied, “That’s just not fair.”
Combined, the three par-4 closing holes at Cross Creek Plantation played 4.l9 in the third round, but that didn’t deter Lower from making a charge coming to the clubhouse. The Malone University alum went from 1-over par to 2 under during the three-hole span and jumped into the lead of the $150,000 event.
“I really didn’t get off to the start I wanted to today, but I told myself to keep in it,” said Lower, who earned his first NGA TOUR win earlier this season. “And then it started raining. Usually when the weather gets bad, I play better for some reason. I guess it’s because I’m from Ohio and this is typical spring golf weather for us. I hung in there, kept grinding and made a few birdies.”
With his second 69 in as many days, the Canal Fulton, Ohio, native moved to 4-under par for the event and leads Peter Malnati, Tony Finau and second-round Joseph Harrison by two strokes going into the final round.
Harrison, a University of San Diego alumnus from Boulder City, Nev., rallied from a double bogey on the opening hole to build a three-stroke lead on No. 11, but another double bogey and a bogey on the backside left him with a 3-over 74 on Saturday and 2 under for the tournament.
Malnati, a former University of Missouri All-American, vaulted into contention with the lowest score of the day by two shots in the third round. The Dandridge, Tenn., golfer carded six birdies and one bogey on Saturday to finish with a 6-under 66 and move into a tie for second place.
Finau of Lehi, Utah, was also one of the few golfers to post a sub-70 round on Saturday. The former Big Break Disney competitor carded five birdies and two bogeys en route to a 3-under 68 in the third round, joining Harrison and Malnati at 2-under par for the event.
Big Break Greenbrier competitor Rich Cochran III of Paducah, Ky., birdied his final hole of the third round to get into red numbers for the day – and the event. The former Middle Tennessee State standout and 2012 NGA TOUR winner finished Saturday with a 1-under 70 and tied for fifth at 1-under par.
Blayne Barber, a former Auburn University All-American, posted a 2-under 69 in the third round to join Cochran at 1-under par. Barber, who has made two PGA TOUR cuts this season, went bogey-free around the testy track on Saturday.
After shooting a tournament-low 65 on Friday, David Skinns struggled on the opening nine on Saturday, turning in 4-over 40. However, the former NGA Player of the Year kept himself in the event with an even-par 35 on the backside. The University of Tennessee All-American will start the final round even par and tied for seventh with former Web.com Tour member Major Manning, who fired a 2-over 73 on Saturday.
Clayton Rask (72) and Travis Bertoni (69) will begin play on Sunday in a tie for ninth at 1-over par, while Will McCurdy (69), Jarrod Barsamian (70), Justin Hueber (69), M.J. Daffue (71), Paul Apyan (72) and Seth Fair (73) are T11 at 2-over par going into the final round.
The final round of the Mountain Lakes Classic presented by Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau at Cross Creek Plantation will start at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. As always, admission is free to the public.
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