Australian James Nitties and American J.J. Killeen continue to reign atop the leaderboard after three rounds of the Nationwide Tour Midwest Classic being played at the Nicklaus Golf Club in Overland Park, Kan. Back-to-back bogey holes on 17 and 18 by Killeen allowed Nitties to move into the lead with a three-round score of 20-under-par 193, one shot better than Killeen.
Both Nitties' and Killeen's round on Saturday included seven birdies. Killeen, however, had three bogeys to go with his seven birdies for an 18-hole score of 66, the highest of his three rounds thus far. Nitties hit 90 percent of his fairways on his tee shots and suffered only one bogey in posting a six-under 65 on Saturday.
"I was a little nervous to start with, but that first birdie will settle you a bit," Nitties said. His lead after 54 holes is the first of his professional career. "I try not to look at the boards," he said. "You find out everyone is making a lot of birdies and you wind up putting a lot of pressure on yourself to make them just to keep up."
With victories in two of the last three Nationwide tournaments, a victory for Killeen in the Nationwide Midwest Classic would earn him an immediate advancement to the PGA Tour.
Eleven players are within six shots of the lead as the tournament heads into the final round on Sunday. New Zealand golfer Josh Geary, tied for third with a 54-hole score of 195, was one of the biggest movers of the third round, firing the best round of the day and a tournament-best score of ten-under 61. Geary's sizzling round advanced him 19 positions on the leaderboard, from 22nd, where he started the day, to among the top four, just two shots back of the lead.
Geary's round included eight birdies and a double eagle on the par-five fourth hole. Other big movers on Saturday were a pair of Swedes, Jonas Blixt and David Lingmerth. Bird shot a round of nine-under 62 on Saturday and moved from a tie for 32nd after two rounds into sole possession of fifth place, at 197, as the tournament moves to the final 18 holes. Lingmerth, who played golf at the University of Arkansas, was tied with his fellow countryman at the beginning of the third round at the Nicklaus Golf Club. He came in with an 18-hole score of 64 on Saturday, which moved him up 25 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for seventh heading into Sunday.