RALEIGH — When B.J. Staten drained the long birdie putt on 18 late Saturday, he put himself back in the lead and set up what will be a challenging, competitive Sunday afternoon at the Rex Hospital Open at TPC Wakefield Plantation golf course.
Several golfers took runs at the lead Saturday, but Staten's 5-under 66 put him at 13-under after three rounds. He has a one-shot lead entering the final round as he goes for his first Nationwide Tour win.
“I don't know, maybe fifty feet,” Staten replied when asked how long the putt was on 18 that put him on top.
He started his round strong with a 32 on the front, with five birdies and one bogey.
“I think I've been patient all week, just hitting fairways and greens,” Staten said. “Anytime you can go 43 holes without making a bogey…I made my first one on eight today, you give yourself a chance to make birdies. That was nice.”
Staten said he plans to use the same strategy tomorrow.
“I'm sure someone will go low. Somebody always does,” said Staten, who thinks several close finishes will help him win. “Maybe play smart to start out the day, put the emphasis on that.
“It's going to be fun. I've lost in a playoff and had three or four seconds. (I need to) maybe try and break that barrier.”
Jim Renner, who played with Staten Saturday, will be in the final twosome Sunday at 12:30. The first group plays at 7:54.
Renner got to 12-under with a very steady 67 in a round that featured four birdies and no bogeys. Renner opened the tournament with a 63 and shot an even 71 in his second round that concluded Saturday morning. He played 30 holes Saturday.
“I didn't have a bogey today. That's always a plus out here. I just played real solid,” Renner said. “I hit the ball well and I'm rolling it well, too, which is nice.”
Renner said he had to watch the scoreboard during his round.
“It's hard not to,” Renner said. “I know where I'm at. I know where I stand. B.J. was playing great. He played phenomenal. (If I) hang with him a little bit, I should be in good shape.”
Several other golfers, including Justin Hicks, James Hahn, Reid Edstrom and Scott Parel, challenged for the lead before falling back to Staten and Renner. Ten golfers are within five shots of the lead and 17 are within six.
Further back is Cameron Percy, who lives about a mile from the course, practices at Wakefield, and is currently sixth on the Nationwide money list with more than $131,000 in winnings so far this year. He shot even and is at 4-under.
“If I had putted half decent, I'd be in front,” said Percy, 38. “Just haven't made anything. I thought coming in I'd have a little big of an advantage here, but it hasn't worked out that way. But, who knows, maybe I can go 10-under tomorrow.
After traveling the country and playing golf, Australian Percy and his wife Katie decided Raleigh would be a good home for their young family in 2009.
“We liked it when we played here, had some friends here and Florida was too hot. This is where Katie wanted to live, so here we are,” said Percy.