In pursuit of history
J.B. Holmes fired a 10-under par 60 while D.A. Points carded a 9-under 61 as both posted career-best rounds and flirted with a round of 59 in the third day of the PGA Tour's inaugural Greenbrier Classic, which was contested under mostly cloudy skies until a light rain moved into the Greenbrier Valley later in the afternoon.
Holmes tied Snead's record on the par-70, 7,031-yard Old White, which was built in 1914 and is the Tour's oldest course. Snead set the course mark Oct. 18, 1950 with a 31 on the front nine and a 29 on the back.
Only four players in the PGA Tour's history have shot a 59, most recently by Paul Goydos in the John Deere Classic three weeks ago.
While Holmes and Points were getting all the attention, Jeff Overton, the leader after Friday's second round, did just enough to maintain his edge, finishing with a 4-under 66 Saturday. Overton, who had a four-shot lead entering Saturday, settled for three-round total of 18-under 192 for a three-stroke lead over Points, who was at 15-under 195.
"It was tough early,'' said Overton, who turned in a career-best 62 Friday. "I missed a couple of fairways and got it going off line a little bit and missed a couple of putts. It was one of those days I didn't feel comfortable teeing off.''
Overton clubbed two bogeys and one birdie on the front nine, but got it going on the back nine with five birdies over the final seven holes.
"A few holes into it the nerves kind of wore off and we started playing some golf,'' said the former Indiana University and All-Big Ten performer who has finished in the top 12 in six of his last nine tournaments.
"On the back nine we really got into a good rhythm and lit it up. You know somebody's going to shoot low [Sunday]. If we can go out there and shoot something under par, we'll have a pretty good shot I think so I'll have to go with an aggressive mentality.''
Boo Weekley, who finished runner-up in the Nationwide Tour's National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic in Bridgeport in 2006, is third after a 3-under 67 Saturday, five strokes behind Overton. Weekley, who is at 13-under 197, turned in a career-best 7-under 63 Friday.
Holmes had 11 birdies and one bogey Saturday, surging from a tie for 69th after landing on the cut line Friday to a tie for fourth at 12-under 198. Joining Holmes in a four-way tie at 12-under were Jonathan Byrd, who had a 65 on the heels of his 64; Brendon de Jonge, a former Virginia Tech standout who had his second 65 of the tournament; and Jimmy Walker, who followed up Friday's 64 with a 67 Saturday.
Stuart Appleby, who also carded a 65, Charles Howell III and Erik Compton, who was tied for the first-round lead, checked in at 11-under 199. Compton, a double heart transplant recipient, had his second straight 68 after an opening-round 63.
Jim Furyk, the highest-ranked player in the tournament, shot a 67 and is at 10-under 200. Rocco Mediate had a 63, his best round since 2003, for a 9-under 201, and John Daly scored eagles on the two par 5s, Nos. 12 and 17, en route to a 67 and a three-day score of 6-under 204. Matt Every, the opening-round co-leader with Compton, clubbed a 72 and is at 5-under 205.
Holmes could have gone even lower, missing a birdie from nearly 4 feet on No. 11 and an eagle putt on No. 17. Holmes' 60 is the fourth score of 60 or better on the Tour in the last four weeks.
"This golf course, if you get no wind, there's definitely a 59 out there,'' said Holmes, a former All-American at Kentucky. "We'll see if the greens hold up.
"Usually in the afternoon the greens are getting a little more bumpy, so we'll see what happens. I hit some good putts on the back nine that didn't go in. So, you know, it's a little frustrating when you look back and end up one short.''
Points, who won the inaugural Nationwide Tour's Pete Dye Classic in 2004 in Bridgeport, was also making a charge at history. He needed to birdie two of the last three holes for a 59, but came up short.
He birdied the 16th hole, but three-putted for bogey on No. 17 after landing in the rough to the right of the fairway then sending his shot into the front bunker. His wedge shot from the sand landed just halfway to the hole.
After the former Illinois standout parred No. 18, Greenbrier owner Jim Justice stood from the Chairman's Box and waved and congratulated Points, who birdied eight of 10 holes during a stretch spanning Nos. 4 through 13.
"A little disappointed at first, but fun while it lasted,'' said Points, whose 6-under 28 on the front nine equaled the lowest nine-hole score on Tour this year. "I wanted to give myself the best chance for birdies on the last two holes. I did part of it right, but I didn't quite execute on the last few shots coming down the stretch.
"And even still I was thinking if I could get away with a par [on No. 17], 18 is still certainly a good birdie opportunity. Unfortunately, it was a tough yardage [on No. 18] for me. I did feel comfortable and calm all the way through 16, but 17 is where I got a little tight.
"You say different things to yourself, I talked to my wife and I talked to Stuart [Appleby]. You try to do everything you can except think about what you're shooting. There should be somebody [today] that has an opportunity and I hope it's me again.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.