Think this tournement doesn't mean anything? Think its just a spacefiller until the U.S Open starts on Thursday? Think again. Serious U.S Open implications may hinge upon tommorow's round for Brian Gay. Gay, who won earlier this year at the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, leads the St. Jude Classic by one stroke entering the final day. Unlike other tournements, players have to win two tournements in a "U.S Open year" to gain an exemption. Gay has one. A win tomorow would gain him the exemption.
Gay has had an interesting year. He has made 12 of the 15 cuts he's attempted, finished in the top 10 three times, and is 12th in the Fed Ex Cup standings. He's a guy who beats up on weak competition. He won the Heritage with a ridiculous posting of 20-undar par. He won that tournement by double digits. Only a handful of players have ever won a tournement by more then nine strokes. But for every Heritage romp, their is the withdrawel at The Players or the missed cut at the Byron Nelson. Don't forget the disasters seven over at the Arnold Palmer...Those numbers tell the story of Gay's rocky year.
I think it will be very interesting to see how Gay does on a pressure packed Sunday. It may be the St. Jude, but it's a lot more for Gay. That exemption would do him a lot of good. Remember, he cruised on Sunday in his only win. How does he deal with having to play his best on the last day? Some of those giant numbers on his tourney log suggest that Gay is not a guy who handles pressure well.
In hot pursuit will be Bryce Molder. Molder piggybacked Robert Allenby late on Saturday and sits one stroke back of Gay. Molder shot a third round 65 to sit at -13. Gay shot a third round 66. Allenby and Paul Goydos are in the hunt as well. Allenby is three strokes back at -11. Goydos is four back at -10.
But if I had to guess, it will be an 18-hole shootout between Gay and Allenby. Molder doesn't thrill me. Despite his third round, I don't see this guy who can play from behind on Sunday and win. Molder's best finish came at the Puerto Rico Open when he tied for 13th. Of the nine tournements he's played this year, he has made only four cuts. Doesn't strike me as much of a threat. The only thing that I might be concerned about if I was Brian Gay is that he made the cut at the Byron Nelson when Gay didn't (Molder finished tied for 23rd). Other then that weekend, Molder doesn't scare me. Watch out for Allenby. Gay, Allenby, and Molder all tee off at 10am this morning.
Other notables going into Sunday: Phil Mickelson's return has not gone as well as he might have hoped. Mickleson sits at -4, tied for 23rd....... Fan favorite John Daily is tied for 89th, at +1 for the weekend...... 2007 British Open and 2008 PGA winner Padrig Harrington missed the cut for the 5th time this year.