PGA Tour

No lead is safe on PGA Tour, but it might be safest at Harbour Town

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 15, 2012 

A reporter asked Carl Pettersson on Saturday if he knew what size jacket he wore, insinuating he was in good position to win the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

Pettersson said he didn't know.

He should find out.

Pettersson may not realize it, but he's in a pretty good spot.

Of course, Pettersson realizes he's leading the RBC Heritage with one round to go. But it's a good bet he doesn't know just how much that means here at Harbour Town.

"It's pretty nice to be in front, but you've still got 18 holes of golf," Pettersson said. "A lot of things can happen in a round of golf."

He's right. To prove it, you need only know that only five of 15 third-round leaders in PGA Tour events have gone on to victory this season.

But that's not the norm. And it's certainly not the norm at Harbour Town.

In the previous seven seasons on the PGA Tour -- not counting this season, which has been a strange one -- golfers who held a third-round lead have gone on to win 160 of the 313 events, a 51.1 percent clip.

At Harbour Town during that same period, five of seven events were won by the third-round leader. That's 71.4 percent, significantly higher.

And that's not an abberation for the Sea Pines course. Of the 43 Heritage tournaments played before this, 30 have been won by the third-round leader. That's 69.8 percent.

The only third-round leaders to falter here in the past seven years were Luke Donald, who lost in a playoff last year after Brandt Snedeker's 7-under 64 helped him overcome a six-shot deficit, and Jerry Kelly in 2007. Kelly was forced to sit on the lead for two days when the final round was delayed after a windstorm.

"It's because it's not an attacker's golf course," Kelly said. "You get behind on this golf course and you try to go for birdies and go against mother nature and it bites you. And that's exactly what I did. I got behind early."

Boo Weekley was the beneficiary of Kelly's collapse, earning his first Heritage -- and PGA Tour -- victory. The next year, Weekley was on the other end, leading after three and going on to win his second straight Heritage.

"You know, it's tough out there," Weekley said. "Carl Pettersson is not making it look like its tough. But it's a tough golf course. The greens are firm. The wind is blowing a little bit here and there. It's tricky a little bit."

"But it's very important to come in with a lead. No matter what golf course you're at."

Weekley's right, it's better to be out front than playing from behind. But the numbers show it's more important here.

I'm not saying tournament director Steve Wilmot should go ahead and engrave Pettersson's name on the trophy. But it wouldn't hurt to know his jacket size.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service