KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (web.com tour release) -- Aron Price is aware of his precarious position this week at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot. Simply put, he needs to move up on the Web.com Tour money list. With a third-round, 7-under 64 at Fox Den Country Club, he’s put himself in position for a big payday and potentially his first Tour victory since 2008. He leads Blayne Barber and Kevin Kisner by a stroke.
At No. 78 on the earnings chart, Price is guaranteed only one more start this season, at next week’s Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb. The top-75 on the money chart following the Cox Classic will play in the Web.com Tour Finals, a group of four tournaments that will also include 75 PGA TOUR players who didn’t qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Price hopes to be counted among those 150 players.
“I haven’t been in contention too many times the last couple of years,” said Price, who won the 2008 Livermore Wine Valley Championship in a playoff and whose best 2013 finish is a tie for seventh at the Air Capital Classic. In Wichita, he was never much of a threat, though, after opening with a 74.
“Next year can ride on how I play any certain week or any certain round, so it is important. But I’m trying to downplay it a little bit,” Price added. “I’ve been playing good and that helps. I’m not going to lie. I’m playing well, so it’s a lot easier to keep a positive frame of mind and not worry about a bad shot or two.” His bogey-free round Saturday included three consecutive birdies on Nos. 10-12 and a birdie on the par-5 18th.
Barber, the 36-hole co-leader, stumbled with bogeys on Nos. 9 and 10 but recovered with two birdies to finish his round. He just missed an eight-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that would have given him a share of the lead.
“I looked at the (leader)board on 16, and I knew if I finished birdie-birdie, I could get in that final group. That was big,” said Barber after he made consecutive birdies to end his 3-under 68 round. He will tee off in the final grouping, with Price and Kisner, Sunday morning off No. 1. Officials are anticipating bad weather in the area and will send players off in threesomes using a two-tee start.
“I’m just here to play golf. I’ll get my tee time and show up on the first tee,” Barber said of the final-round schedule. “There’s no telling what the scores are going to be, what other guys are going to shoot, so all I can is go out there and hit every shot to the best of my ability and try to shoot one less than the next guy.”
Kisner, a two-time Web.com Tour winner who won earlier this season at the Chile Classic in South America, hit 17 greens Saturday. As for the one green he missed? He landed his ball on the fringe on his way to a 66 and a 12-under total. He, too, birdied his final hole of the afternoon.
“I played really solid all day. I saw 13 (under) was in and posted, so I knew I needed to get within striking distance. I thought I hit a perfect drive on 18, but I ended up having to hit a 20-yard cut around the trees,” added Kisner about his second-shot approach. He got up and down from the fringe for birdie on the par-5 finishing hole. “It all worked out, and I’m glad to have a shot tomorrow. I’ve won before, so I know how to do it. If it’s your time, you have to seize the opportunity.”
Miguel Angel Carballo and Matt Bettencourt are tied for fourth, two shots behind Price. In total, there are 18 players within five shots of Price’s lead.