Date: March 23, 2008

Van Pelt still in control

New Zealander Tim Wilkinson and Australian Gavin Coles trail round-three leader Bo Van Pelt (13 under) by five and six shots respectively at the Puerto Rican Open. Wilkinson carded a two-under-par third round of 70 – which included three birdies and a bogey – to be eight under overall while Coles reeled off three birdies on his way to a faultless three-under-par round of 69 on day three which sees him on minus seven in a tie for 14th spot on the leaderboard. Van Pelt maintained his spot at the top with a one-under-par 71 in round three at Trump International Golf Club. Aiming for his first career title at this inaugural event, Van Pelt has a one-shot lead at 13-under 203. “It was a little less windy than the first couple of days we played but the golf course is still tough,” Van Pelt said. “It&aposs hard to get the ball close to some of the pins.” Greg Kraft and Briny Baird are tied for second. Van Pelt started strong Saturday, birdying the par-five second and the par-five fifth. The Indiana native bogeyed the ninth and 14th before finishing with a birdie at the par-three 16th and two pars. “I felt like I hit it big coming in the last four holes,” Van Pelt said. “I could have birdied the last four pretty easily.” “So I am striking it well, I just didn&apost convert on the short birdie putts that I had today.” Kraft and Baird both fired three-under 69s to retain their one-shot cushion over Jerry Kelly and South African Brenden Pappas, who are tied for fourth at 11 under. Both Kraft and Baird started with a bogey at the first and both players birdied the next two holes. Kraft cooled off, bogeying the sixth, but closed with birdies on three of his final four holes. Baird added birdies at holes 5 and 7 but slipped with bogeys at 12 and 14. Baird then moved back into a tie for second with birdies at No.16 and 17. Kraft&aposs only career win came in 1993 at the Guaranty Golf Classic, when it was an unofficial event. Baird is still searching for his first title, as is Pappas. Kelly has two career wins but they both came back in 2002. With so much at stake and with the players involved not used to being in contention, the winner may end up being the player who handles the pressure the best. “The guys that have won are still going to go out there and they are going to be at the top of their game, and they are going to need to be prepared to play tomorrow and they are going to need to play well,” Baird said. “Guys that haven&apost won, same thing, they are going to have to go out there and play well.” “You can make it as simple as you want. Some guys will handle it better than others, and we will see who they are tomorrow.” This event is the first full-field sanctioned PGA Tour tournament ever held in Puerto Rico. Third Round of the Puerto Rican Open (Par 72): -13: Bo Van Pelt 64 68 71 -12: Greg Kraft 69 66 69, Briny Baird 67 68 69 -11: Brenden Pappas 67 69 69, Jerry Kelly 67 66 72 -10: Tommy Armour III 72 67 67, Marco Dawson 68 69 69 -9: Ryan Blaum 69 66 72, Ted Purdy 66 68 73 -8: Chris Riley 70 69 69, Nicholas Thompson 67 71 70, Kyle Thompson 66 72 70, Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand) 71 67 70 -7: Diego Vanegas 70 70 69, Gavin Coles (Australia) 71 69 69, John Merrick 68 70 71, Kevin Stadler 70 69 70, Bob Tway 71 68 70 Also: -5: Steve Allan (Australia) 70 70 71 -4: Stephen Leaney (Australia) 71 70 71 -1: Andrew Buckle (Australia) 70 72 73 1: Michael Sim (Australia) 72 70 75