Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) maintains lead after round three of the Men's Golf National Championship
Silvis, Ill. -- (Round Three Individual/ Team) Cardinal Stritch maintained the team lead and Rowan Lester from Texas Wesleyan hung on to the individual lead after the third round of the 2017 NAIA Men's Golf National Championships Thursday at TPC Deere Run.
Cardinal Stritch, which led by 10 strokes after the second round, extended the lead to 13 shots as the tournament slightly altered its format Thursday.
Inclement weather forced delays and an ultimate postponement of Wednesday's second round, and with potential weather issues looming Friday, the tournament was cut to the top 17 teams and 40 individuals plus ties after the completion of the second round Thursday morning.
The Wolves at an 889 overall hope to hold off four teams within 15 shots. Grand View and Texas Wesleyan share second place, 13 shots off the pace, and William Woods and Keiser are tied four fourth, 15 shots back.
"We were relaxed and knew we had a chance to play a solid round today," CSU head coach Neal Grusczynski said. "We had some struggles early but everyone stepped up and played better on the back.
"We need to do the same things tomorrow," he continued. "It's supposed to be cold but we're from Milwaukee, so if anything, that should play to our advantage. But no matter what happens tomorrow, I'm proud of these guys. They've done a great job all week."
Grand View and Texas Wesleyan made their third-round charges behind a pair of 67s. The Vikings' Myles Pfingsten and the Rams' David Ravetto carded the low rounds of the tournament, firing their 4-under 67s.
Lester, the lone player under par through two rounds, saw his three-shot lead entering the third round shrink to a single stroke by the end of the day.
"I hung in there today," Lester said. "I didn't play the best but I had some clutch up and downs that kept the momentum. I made big putts on No. 4 and 5 and didn't have a bogey from there. I played 1-under on the back and that's the toughest side on this course."
Lester is at even par 213 as Ben Kendrick from the Cumberlands made a Thursday charge. Kendrick followed up his 2-under 69 in the second round with a 1-under 70 to climb up the leaderboard. His 214 is a shot out of the lead.
"I'm playing a lot smarter, that's definitely it," Kendrick said about coming back from his opening-round 75. "With these pin positions and the wind, you have to take what the shot gives you. I don't know if I've fired at one pin all week. You can't take any shots off because something can always go wrong."
Billy McKenzie from William Woods is in third, four shots back.
That should set up an exciting final day at Deere Run, host of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic.
"I need to stay focused because here you are never out of it," Kendrick said. "With the fantastic finish here, there can be 5-6 shot swings over the last four holes. So you can be up big or down big and anything could happen."
Anything including another hole-in-one as the tournament saw its third ace. Colton Kooima from Northwestern (Iowa) aced the 140-yard No. 16 Thursday afternoon. It was his second career hole-in-one.
Team and individual champions will be crowned Friday as the final round of the NAIA National Championships is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. CDT.