Branshaw’s -2 3rd Round Keeps Him In Contention

Oswego native David Branshaw carded a -2 69 in the third round of the Nationwide Tour Championship Saturday in Texas, keeping him in the upper third of the contenders and in the hunt for his PGA Tour card for next year.

Branshaw went even par on the front nine and posted 3 birdies and a bogey on the back nine to make minus 2.  He’s in a three-way tie for 17th place going into the decisive round Sunday.

His birdies at 10 (the second time he’s birdied that hole this weekend), 16 and 18 were partly the result of a strong game off the tee. His drives were an average of 324 yards in the third round, 30 yards longer than he drove the ball on either of the first two days of competition.  The strong driving helped him make 15 of 18 greens in regulation but was balanced by a less strong performance on the green, needing 32 putts to make 18 holes, up 3 from the day before and ranking him 39th of 59 players in the tournament.

This is the final Nationwide Tour event of the year and it’s important because it determines which players will earn their one-year exemptions back to the PGA Tour.  Branshaw has had two tours on the PGA, but lost his card last year.  He’s 27th on the Nationwide Tour money list; only the top 25 money earners get PGA cards.  He’s about $5,000 back of a group of players in places 23 through 25.  This event is the richest on the Nationwide Tour, with a total purse of $1 million.

Among players in the money list right above Branshaw, Hunter Haas, in 26th place on the list, is tied for 9th place going into the final round, two strokes above Branshaw.  Chris Tidland, the man on the bubble in 25th place, is having a poor tournament, tied for 47th place, 6 strokes behind Branshaw.  Scott Gutschewski, in 24th on the money list, is tied for 9th with Haas.  Marc Leishman, 23rd on the money list, is tied for 6th in the tournament and is just two strokes off the leader.  Ricky Barnes, 22nd on the money list is in 34th place in the tournament, four strokes behind Branshaw.  Three other players higher on the money list than Branshaw are trailing him in the tournament, making it possible for Branshaw to climb back into the top 25 with a solid performance Sunday.

He can also win his PGA Tour card by winning the tournament.  He’s 8 strokes behind the leader.

By finishing in positions 26-40 on the money list, Branshaw will win a free place in the PGA Tour National Qualifying Tournament next month.  He’s already won a free pass back to the Nationwide Tour next year if he can’t get back to the PGA.