The Scotsman that took this tournament last year is well on his way to defend his title with two great round at TPC Summerlin. Martin Laird has followed his second round of 62 with a 63. After driving the green on the 310-yard, par-4 15th, he sunk an eight foot putt then follow it up with three pars and took a one stroke lead over Jonathan Byrd in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
“I really left myself the easiest putt on the green,” Laird said. “It was a right edge, up the hill putt. That’s the one most of us would want if we had 6 feet for eagle.”
After beating George McNeil with a birdie on the third playoff hole last year, Laird won this event and captured his first PGA Tour title. Chad Campbell was also in the playoff but was eliminated on the second extra hole.
“It’s completely different because last year it was probably the best chance I’ve had to date to win a tournament and I was 134th or something on the money list,” said Laird, 43rd on the money list this season. “So there was a lot more pressure on me last year than this year. It’s definitely a little more relaxed week than last year, knowing that I’ve had a good year so far, and I don’t have to worry about playing to keep my card.”
Laird had a 19-under total of 194 onn a rain softened course which is the fourth of five tournaments in the Fall Series. Earlier this year, Laird lost in a playoff to Matt Kuchar at The Barclay’s
“It’s been a good three days and, even after only shooting 2 under the first day, I was pretty confident that I could post three low ones in a row to get back in contention,” Laird said. “I maybe didn’t think I’d post 17 under the next two rounds, but I’m pleased obviously where I am and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“Any time you shoot 62 you’ve got to feel pretty good after it. I was just pleased to finally make some putts because I hit it just as good on Thursday as I did on Friday, just made nothing, so it was nice to see the ball go in the hole. I’ve started to get a little more comfortable with the speed of the greens as the week has gone on and putted nicely again today.”
Other than Byrd smooth 66, other notable rounds were also handed in by Australia’s Cameron Percy who shot a career best 62. He made eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to join Webb Simpson who fired a 64 and sits at 27 under. In his own right, Simpson had 10 birdies and two bogeys in his round.
“I was 1 over through five,” Simpson said. “But I told myself to stay patient and I knew birdies would come. I knew I was playing well enough to make a lot of birdies, and they came.
“I birdied six through nine and then 11 through 13 and then 15 and 16. I don’t know if I’ve ever had 10 birdies in a round out here on TOUR, but it felt good.”
With the top 125 earning their playing cards for the Tour next year, Percy, a 36-year old rookie from Australia is sitting 185th on the Money List at present.
Tied for 5th place at 15 under par are Cameron Beckman (64) and Spencer Levin (66).
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