River Pointe Golf Club pro Sonny Skinner follows through on his tee shot on the first hole during third round of the 74th Senior PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.
ST. LOUIS — When Sonny Skinner went to bed Thursday evening, he couldn’t help but dream of what might be by the end of the weekend.
And the dream ain’t over yet.
Skinner, the head pro at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, has fallen off his Day 1 position of being tied for third overall — but not by much. Following two straight rounds of even par Friday and Saturday, Skinner (2-under) now sits tied for 15th — eight shots back of leader Kenny Perry (-10) with one round to play.
“I’m not sure if anyone around 2-under can catch Kenny, but I’m sure going to try,” Skinner told The Herald by telephone Saturday evening. “I’d have to have an incredible day — and right now I feel like I can birdie everything when I’m out there — but it’s not going to be easy
“But it’s still possible.”
Skinner, however, has a lot of ground to make up — not just on Perry but all those who stand in his way of a big payday or possible first tour title.
But he said he’ll enter today’s final round not thinking about either.
“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn not to look at the payouts or anything like that,” he said. “Because if you’re focused on that, you’re not focused on what’s important — and that’s to see each shot, feel each shot and make each shot. If you’re out there saying, ‘OK, this is a $25,000 shot, or a $30,000 shot,’ it won’t serve you well.
“I’m just going to go out (today), play smart and try my best. It’s worked so far.”
Skinner’s round Saturday had the makings to move up the leaderboard. Skinner cranked out a birdie on the opening hole, then parred the next three before running into trouble on Nos. 5 and 6 — holes that ended with a pair of bogeys.
“I really started well, but I ran my approaches by the holes there and it cost me,” Skinner said.
Misery loves company.
Skinner and the rest of the field were then called off the course mid-round for a weather delay, which lasted two hours and left a sour taste in Skinner’s mouth as he stewed over dropping two shots after starting strong.
“You hate huge delays like that,” he said. “But I came back out, shook it off and finished my round pretty well.”
Skinner got back to even when he birdied the very next hole, then he parred nine of the last 11, mixing in one bogey and one birdie to remain at even.
“I can’t complain right now,” Skinner said when asked if he felt disappointed after such a hot start which had since leveled off. “I played well the first day and haven’t played that well since, but I’m scrambling and saving par with some nice putts — and here I am, one round left and I’m under par. It’s by far the best I’ve ever played in a major.”
Skinner added that if he doesn’t win, he at least wants to finish as the tournament’s low club pro — a feat he accomplished during his first crack at the Senior PGA in 2011. But Skinner will have to fend off fellow club pro Mark Melke, who also sits at 2-under. Ironically, the two are actually pair together for today’s final round as they are set to see off at 11:30 a.m.
Skinner, like he has since Day 1, says he’ll be ready.
“I’m in position, but I need a special day (today),” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get it.”
Kuchar in contention for another PGA title
FORT WORTH, Texas — Former Georgia Tech star Matt Kuchar put the finishing touches on his impressive rain-hit second round on Saturday and then maintained a one-shot lead after the third round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kuchar, who clinched his fifth PGA Tour title at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, made three pars in the early hours at Colonial Country Club to complete a five-under 65 second round before a third-round 69 left him with an 11-under total of 199.
Fellow Americans Matt Every (66), Chris Stroud (67) and former ABAC golfer Boo Weekley (66) and Canadian Graham DeLaet (69) were a further shot back at 10 under.
Today’s final round will be wide open as 22 players are within five shots of Kuchar.
World No. 13 Kuchar opened his third round with a birdie on the first but stumbled with bogeys at the par-four seventh and par-three eighth.
But the five-time winner steadied the ship and birdied the par-five 11th and par-three 16th to grab the outright lead.
DeLaet looked like he would grab the third-round lead after three birdies in his opening 11 holes but thoughts of his maiden PGA Tour win were tempered with three bogeys at 13, 14 and 17. A closing birdie allowed the three-time Canadian Tour winner to keep the dream alive.
Every made his run with three birdies in his opening six holes and another at the 13th. He bogeyed the 14th but gained the stroke back with a birdie mat 18.
Two-time tour winner Weekley had four birdies in his opening 12 holes, added further birdies at 15 and 18 but dropped a shot on the 14th and 16th holes.
After a bogey on the fifth, Stroud claimed four birdies in the final 13 holes to move into contention.