PALM COAST, Fla. (AP) — Keith Fergus moved into position for his first Champions Tour victory, shooting a bogey-free 5-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Ginn Championship.
Fergus, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied all four par-5 holes and parred the last four holes – the most difficult test on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Hammock Beach course at the Ocean Club – to finish at 10-under 134.
Brad Bryant, who shared the first-round lead with Fergus, shot a 68 to join Tom Purtzer (66) at 9 under. Mark O’Meara (67) and Joe Ozaki (68) were 8 under.
Hale Irwin (68), the Champions Tour victory and earnings leader, bogeyed his last three holes after briefly holding the lead. He was 7 under along with 64-year-old Raymond Floyd (69), Gil Morgan (68) and R.W. Eaks (69).
Fred Funk, a winner on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour this season, shot a 67 to move up to 10th at 6 under. He hasn’t played on either tour for a month because of muscular back pain.
Fergus missed one green and appears to have the best handle on how to play in the wind swirling around the course, which is directly off the Atlantic Ocean. The wind has changed direction each day, and may change yet again for the final round.
“I was happy that I adjusted to the wind change,” Fergus said. “It still blew … Didn’t blow as hard as it did (Friday), but in a different direction. I adjusted well and I played well.”
Fergus has dodged a bogey for 36 holes, in the wind, on a course strewn with water hazards, marsh and huge bunkers.
“There are bogeys out there,” he said. “Any of the holes. Fortunately, I didn’t make any.”
Purtzer, coming off a playoff victory over Loren Roberts in the AT&T Classic, shot a 66 despite three balls hit into water hazards – his tee shot at No. 5 and his second shot at Nos. 14 and 16. He had margin for error, with two eagles on the front nine and a short birdie putt on No. 18, the course’s most-difficult hole this week.
“Today was challenging,” he said. “I kind of like those days. Birdie on the last hole kind of makes you feel good for the evening, because I had given away a couple of shots there the last few holes. So it’s always a good way to finish.”
Purtzer also continues to benefit from several putting tips he received from Champions Tour veteran Dave Stockton two weeks ago, mostly in terms of alignment.
“It was a whole bunch of things … I needed lots of help,” he said.