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Killeen, Gove Lead Utah Championship Going Into Final Round

By Mike Sorensen
Deseret News
Published: Saturday, July 30, 2011 10:18 p.m. MDT
SANDY — Saturday is traditionally know as moving day in PGA Tour events, and that was the case at the Nationwide Tour’s Utah Championship, where several players made big moves in the third round at Willow Creek Country Club.
Golfers we haven’t heard from all week jumped into the top 10, guys like Jason Kokrak and Mark Anderson, who each fired 64s, Charles Warren and Danny Lee, who each shot 65s, and David Lingmerth, who had a 66.
As well as they all played, however, they’re still chasing J.J. Killeen and Jeff Gove, who stayed atop the leaderboard with fine rounds of their own Saturday. The two will be playing together in the final group today for the second day in a row after Gove shot a 67 and Killeen a 68 to both finish at 16-under-par 197.
Gove made a pair of chip-in eagles, while Killeen rallied on the back nine after a shaky start to set up a shootout at high noon today. They enjoy a four-shot lead over Kokrak and Lingmerth, while Anderson, Warren and Lee are another shot back at 202 along with Bud Cauley and Jonas Blixt.
“I felt good out there today,” said Gove, who wasn’t thrilled with the 3:35 p.m. tee time, more than 24 hours after finishing his 62 on Friday. “I was a bit anxious starting out after having to wait around all day.”
Gove’s anxiousness went away when he chipped in for eagle at the par-5 No. 3 hole. After taking a two-shot lead after the front nine, he did it again at the par-5 No. 12 hole, when he sank an approach shot from 75 yards for another eagle.
At that point he had a four-stroke advantage over Killeen, the 29-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, who hit his first drive of the day at No. 1 an inch out of bounds and started bogey-bogey.
However, Killeen fought back on the back nine with birdies at Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 17 and made a great up-and-down par out of the long grass at No. 18 to end up with at least a share of the lead for the third straight day.
“I definitely didn’t start the way I wanted to, but I hung tough,” he said. “I wasn’t even thinking how many shots I was down, and I took advantage of a couple of holes on the back that were birdieable.”
Killeen has never won on the Nationwide Tour, but believes he is ready to win after being in a similar position in his three years on the tour.
“I feel great,” he said. “I’ve been playing well most of the year and I’m going to go out there and play the way I’ve been playing. I’ve had a lot of good Sunday rounds, and I definitely think I can do that tomorrow.”
The 40-year-old Gove has a lot more experience than Killeen, having played six years on the PGA Tour and 10 years on the Nationwide Tour, where he has three victories.
“I’m excited for the challenge,” he said. “I’ve done it before, so I know what it feels like. I’ve won out here three times and I have a bunch of seconds. I haven’t been in this position in awhile, so I’m excited about it.”
Lehi’s Tony Finau, who hoped to make a move on the leaders Saturday, fell out of the top 25 with a 71 and stands 10 strokes off the lead at 207. Finau needs to finish in the top 25 to be able to continue playing on the Nationwide Tour without an exemption.
Finau played the front nine 1-under, but bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 before making birdie at No. 17. He stands in a tie for 32nd heading into the final round.
NATIONWIDE NOTES: Originally, the leaders were to tee off at 3:30 today to accommodate live TV coverage on the Golf Channel. However, because of possible thunderstorms in the forecast, the final times were moved up more than three hours to noon. … Kokrak, who has made just one cut in four tournaments this year and ranks 191st on the money list, can make a big jump with a good round today. … There were seven eagles Saturday and there have been 35 so far this week. … The tournament doesn’t have a corporate sponsor, but is presented by the Utah Sports Commission.
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