Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Merritt Keeps Lead in Heritage

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Merritt Keeps Lead in Heritage

Article excerpt

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. * Troy Merritt felt the fear Saturday he experienced during his successful amateur career. The third-round leader at the RBC Heritage expects another healthy dose Sunday.

Merritt shot a 2-under 69 to take a three-stroke lead over defending champion Matt Kuchar, Brendon Todd and Kevin Kisner. Jim Furyk, No. 10 in the world, was four shots behind, with Masters champ Jordan Spieth another stroke back and eager to win another jacket this one tartan.

"I was starting to feel the fear and being afraid, like I would when I was an amateur," Merritt said. "It's not a bad fear; it's the fear of being caught. And I think it's worked for me in the past. "

Merritt finished at 14-under 199, two off the 54-hole scoring record set by Justin Leonard in his 2002 victory.

Todd made the big move with a 63, the day's lowest round. Kisner shot 67, and Kuchar 68.

Furyk led a group another stroke behind after a 68, with Spieth five shots back, also following a 68.

Brice Garnett and Branden Grace were tied with Furyk in fifth. Garnett shot 65, and Grace 66. Bo Van Pelt was 9 under along with Spieth after a 67.

The pack of seven players at 8 under included 2013 winner Graeme McDowell, past British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen and former world No. 1 Luke Donald.

All of them will have to chase down Merritt, the 54-hole leader for the first time in his career. His best finish on the PGA Tour is a second in Memphis last year.

Merritt moved to the top and built a four-shot lead Friday with his course-record tying 61 at Harbour Town Golf Links. He lost nearly all of that on the front nine Saturday before regrouping.

Merritt explained how that fear calms him and reminds him not to press and take chances to keep the edge. "You go out there, play solid golf, take care of your business and you see how the other guy is doing," he said.

That worked in the third round after Merritt put a ball in the water on the par-4 eighth hole "It was a spectacular splash," he said leading to a double bogey and reducing his lead to a stroke.

That's when Merritt regrouped and responded, making a birdie on the ninth to regain his rhythm.

"I was going to try and get the momentum back," he said. …

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