Winless Briny Baird takes lead into finale

McClatchy news servicesNovember 10, 2013 

Tacoma native Michael Putnam holds the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, emblematic of the Web.com Tour’s 2013 player of the year.

COURTESY OF THE WEB.COM TOUR

Making par from a tough lie in the bunker saved Briny Baird’s round. Closing with three straight birdies gave him a share of the lead. None of that will make Sunday any easier for a 41-year-old who has never won in 364 tries on the PGA Tour.

Baird and Chris Kirk each made birdie on the final hole Saturday to separate themselves — but not by much — in the McGladrey Classic in St. Simons Island, Ga. They were one shot clear of three others, with a dozen players separated by 12 shots going into the final round at Sea Island.

“If I knew what to do tomorrow, shoot, I’d have won plenty of times,” Baird said after a 3-under 67. “I’ve always said Tiger Woods wasn’t 80 PGA Tour wins physically better than me. It’s just not possible to be 80 wins better physically, so obviously there’s some mental in there — more than some. It’s mostly mental, I would say.”

Kirk had a birdie putt on every hole and still was 2 over for his round and losing ground. He finally hit one close on the 13th, the start of three straight birdies, and capped off his round with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 68.

Kirk and Baird were at 10-under 200.

Peers praise Putnam

Fellow players voted Michael Putnam the Web.com Tour’s player of the year after he won twice and was its leading money winner during the regular season.

The Tacoma native won the Mexico Championship and Mid-Atlantic Championship in consecutive weeks in late May and early June, and he racked up $450,184 in earnings.

Putnam, 30, a former Pepperdine standout, also had two runner-up finishes, nine top 10s and made the cut in 19 of 25 starts.

“I am honored to be voted player of the year by my fellow players,” Putnam, who is competing in the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic in Georgia, said in a statement.

He receives the Jack Nicklaus Award and will return to the PGA Tour, where he was a regular in 2007 and 2011.

Sixty of Putnam’s 83 Web.com Tour rounds were at par or better (72.3 percent), and his low rounds were 63, shot three times.

FRENCHMAN LEADS

France’s Victor Dubuisson opened up a five-shot lead after the third round at the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalay, Turkey, while Tiger Woods kept himself in the mix despite three bogeys on the back nine.

Dubuisson opened with four straight birdies and added five more in a bogey-free 9-under 63. He moved to 21-under 195 to distance himself from the field. Ian Poulter was alone in second after a 68, while Woods and Henrik Stensson (69) were among four players sitting another shot back.

ELSEWHERE

Yuki Ichinose of Japan shot a 6-under 66 join a three-way tie for the lead after the second round of the LPGA Tour’s Mizuno Classic in Shima, Japan, at 8-under 136 with Mamiko Higa (66) and Shiho Oyama (68). … Laurie Rinker had two back-nine eagles and finished with a 6-under 67 to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Legends Tour Open in Palm Harbor, Fla. Trish Johnson, Lorie Kane and Nancy Scranton were tied for second at 70.

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