FARRAGUT, Tenn. (pgatour.com) -- This week’s News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot will be the second consecutive event that Martin Piller will play in the final group on Sunday. The Dallas, Texas, resident fired a 67 Saturday afternoon at Fox Den Country Club to post an overall 14-under 199.
Quite a few players made up ground in the third round. J.J. Killeen (64) and Fabian Gomez (67) are just one-stroke back after 54 holes.
Josh Broadaway and Aaron Watkins are two off the pace with eight more players within four shots of the lead.
Piller paid no attention to the scores posted during the early part of the third round. Ryan Armour went low carding the week through 54 holes with a 63 and five other players posted 64. The conditions were perfect for scoring and the 28-year-old had a few fireworks of his own.
Piller didn’t hit the best drive on No. 5 but was up the right side with a clear second shot into the par-5. The goal was simple, get the ball in the bunker and get up and down for birdie.
The Texas A&M alumnus made the most of his sub-standard drive by rolling his ball up on the front edge of the green. Piller then went on to capitalize by draining a 30-foot putt for eagle that settled him into his round.
“The eagle on No. 5 was huge,” he said. “I had a three-putt after that, but I just shook it off.”
Piller felt relaxed on Saturday, not allowing the pressure of the situation bother him. The Web.com Tour veteran wasn’t affected by all the low scores. Piller has plenty experience to draw upon having won twice on Tour. Just last week, at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, Piller was one-stroke off the lead after 36 holes.
“I was surprisingly calm on the first tee,” he said. “I was in a similar position last week.”
After a bogey on No. 6 Piller made two more birdies coming in. When he failed to make a five-foot birdie putt on No. 18, the five-year pro finished his third round with eight straight pars.
Last week in Springfield Piller entered the final round in a three-way tie for the lead, the former Web.com Tour graduate plans to keep things simple on Sunday.
“I don’t know what score it will take,” he said. “I have to continue to execute starting with that first tee shot tomorrow.”
J.J. Killeen really got it going on the back nine. The Texas Christian University graduate made five birdies and posted 31. Killeen entered the final round of the 2011 Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank tied for the lead with Jeff Gove. The seven-year pro fired 65 in the final round at Willow Creek Country Club and won by four strokes. Killeen captured his second win the following week at the Cox Classic and finished that year No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list. Those experiences combined with the way he played on Saturday have Killeen very excited about the opportunity of getting win number three this weekend in Knoxville.
“I’m going to try and win the tournament,” he said. “I know what it takes to win.”
Fabian Gomez quietly plotted his was around Fox Den CC most of the day. The Argentine entered the mix when he birdied the final two holes to get within one of the lead. Gomez had an up and down day on the greens but is pleased with his position with just 18 holes to play.
“I played so-so with the putter,” he said. “I'm not too far from the leader, so I'm happy.”
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