Southern Farm Bureau Classic
Southern Farm Bureau Classic
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Donald takes a one shot lead

English rookie Luke Donald birdied three of the last four holes for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead Saturday in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.

The former NCAA champion from Northwestern, four strokes behind Brad Elder midway through the round, had a 15-under 201 total for the first 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

Elder, who led the first two rounds, fell to third at 13-under 203 after an up-and-down 71 that included four bogeys, three birdies and an eagle on the par-4 sixth when he holed out on the fly from 123 yards with a wedge.

Deane Pappas, who was in the final group with Elder and Donald, was second at 202 after a 68 that included a spectacular shot from out of the sand and behind a tree to help save par on the 408-yard 16th hole.

Donald began the day two strokes behind Elder, and was four behind Elder after 11 holes at the 7,199-yard Annandale Golf Club.

But the 24-year-old Englishman's day turned on the par-3 12th when he made up two strokes with a near hole in one. His tee shot from 171 yards out dented the hole, leaving him with a 5-footer he drained for birdie.

His birdie on No. 15 pulled him into a three-way tie for the lead with Elder and Pappas.

On the 408-yard, par-4 No. 16, Donald knocked Elder out of the lead for the first time since Thursday.

Elder's second shot was short, barely reaching the green. He two-putted from about 35 feet for par.

Donald, meanwhile, left himself about a 20-footer, which he sank for birdie.

Pappas' second shot on 16 might have been the best of the day. His tee shot landed in the bunker and behind a tree. He had a gap of about a foot between the hanging branches and the lip of the bunker to shoot through.

He hit a 7-iron line drive that landed on the green, skipped twice and hit the stick before coming to rest about 15 feet from the hole. He two-putted from there, but disaster had clearly been averted.

The South African then birdied No. 18 to jump ahead of Elder.

For Pappas and Elder, a win here is the only thing that will get them exempt for next season. The top 125 on the money list earn their tour cards, while those below can earn their cards in Q school.

Elder is 173rd and Pappas is 170th in earnings. Donald at 106 has no such worries. Though with his first career win he could make a case for rookie of the year.

Jonathan Byrd, who won last week, and Peter Lonard, No. 40 on money list, are the leading candidates, and both still playing here.

Byrd is tied for fifth in a group four shots back at 205. Lonard is tied for 54th at 4-under 212.

Chad Campbell, who was the runner-up here last year, was three back at 204 after a third-round 69.

Robin Freeman made an early move with a 29 through nine holes, but finished his round of 65 with two bogeys. He is also four back.


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