Aaron Wise finally faced a little adversity during Saturday’s third round of the 28th Air Capital Classic.
But at the end of the day, the climb remained every bit as steep for his pursuers with 18 holes to play at Crestview Country Club.
Wise, the 20-year-old who dominated the first two rounds on Crestview’s North course, shot a 3-under-par 67 to maintain a six-shot lead as he chases his first Web.com Tour victory.
After posting consecutive 62s to set the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record, Wise made four bogeys and was put on the clock for slow play along with playing partner Curtis Thompson. Still, the former University of Oregon golfer made four birdies over a five-hole stretch on the back nine to end the round at 19-under 191 while holding the largest 54-hole lead in tournament history.
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“Random things happened,” said Wise, whose stretch of 35 bogey-free holes ended with his first miscue on the par-4 fourth. “That brought adversity. … I thought I did a good job of just keep moving on and putting a good score together amongst all those things happening.”
Wise, who won 2016 NCAA individual and team titles at Oregon, will be paired with a golfer from the team the Ducks defeated for that championship. Former Texas All-American Beau Hossler climbed into second place after firing a 64 that moved him to 13 under.
Tour veteran Jin Park, who is at 12 under, will join the former college standouts in the final threesome at 11:30 a.m. Sunday as groups will start on Nos. 1 and 10 due to the threat of inclement weather.
Wise, No. 35 on the Web.com money list, started the round with a six-shot lead over Thompson and K.H. Lee. But Lee was plagued by three back-nine bogeys in a 69, while Thompson double-bogeyed the par-4 18th to shoot 70.
Hossler, who is trying to solidify his place on tour after getting into the field as a Monday qualifier, and Park, who has had a nondescript season, moved up with their 64s. Hossler made the biggest noise on moving day, reaching 7 under through 12 holes on his round before leveling off.
“Generally, for me, the more important thing is the amount of players between you and the lead,” said Hossler, who started the day tied for ninth. “Anybody can go and shoot 76 one day and let the entire field in, but when you’re nine back and there’s 40 in between, it’s a lot more difficult to make up that ground.”
Hossler was unable to play in the match-play championship against Oregon last June after sustaining a torn labrum in his semifinal match. Wise lost his match to Hossler’s talented teammate, Scottie Scheffler, but the Ducks used Hossler’s concession point to win the team title at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
While Hossler’s shoulder injury is a thing of the past, the challenge for him and others will be offsetting the work Wise has done the first three days at Crestview.
And for Wise?
“The biggest challenge is just not thinking about it,” he said of his big lead. “And keeping yourself going and setting new goals every time and pushing yourself, because it’s easy to just sit there and try to make pars.
“Obviously, that doesn’t work out well when people do that.”