RBC Heritage

McCombs: Could wind be on Kelly's side this time?

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 20, 2013 

Jerry Kelly reacts after hitting the ball from the fairway at No. 18 on Saturday afternoon during the third round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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Charley Hoffman enters Sunday's final round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing with a two-shot lead and a forecast for wind gusts of up to 35 mph.

"I like the wind. I'd rather have the wind blow than not blow," said Hoffman, who won the 2007 Humana Challenge in windy conditions.

That's a bold sentiment. Just ask Jerry Kelly.

If there's anyone who knows about the wind at Harbour Town, it's Kelly.

"I heard 35 mph gusts tomorrow," Kelly said. "It could be set up for one of those type of days at Harbour Town like we had ... like I had the last time I was in the lead here."

Kelly is referring to 2007, when he held a one-stroke lead entering the final round. Kelly teed off on No. 1 at 1 p.m., and the horn sounded soon thereafter, halting play.

"I think it was blowing 50 (mph) here," Kelly said.

The winds took down part of a tree on the course, injured a spectator and play was postponed until Monday.

"I was so ready to play that Sunday. I was like, 'Let's go. Who cares? It's blowing hard, it doesn't matter.' I felt really good," Kelly said. "I get out there and (the horn sounds). That's it. That was tough, no doubt about it."

When play resumed, Kelly probably wished it hadn't. He started well, with an eagle on No. 2. But from there it was a disaster. He got behind early, took chances trying to make up ground and played the final 16 holes at 8 over for an eighth-place finish.

"It wasn't a comfortable situation," Kelly said, "but that's the key -- learning how to be good when you're uncomfortable. It's never comfortable. You handle it, and that's what makes you a player, is just getting it done from that situation. I didn't get it done that day."

The wind derailed Kelly's last good chance at a tartan jacket. If he's to get one this year, he'll need its help.

Thanks, in part, to improved putting over the second round, Kelly shot a bogey-free, 5-under 66 on Saturday to play his way into contention in a tie for sixth, five shots back.

Should the wind play a big role Sunday, Kelly likes where he's at -- particularly behind some golfers on the leaderboard who have far less Harbour Town experience than he has accrued in 16 appearances.

"It swirls in certain spots," Kelly said of the wind at Harbour Town. "You better know your trajectory. If you keep it below the trees, it's one club. If you get it above the trees, it's another club, or maybe another two. So you've got to know what your ball is doing."

If the winds do come, though, Kelly said there's no one course of action that will guarantee success.

"You never know what you're going to get around here," Kelly said. "And when the wind blows, you can't pick a score. You've just got to try to hang on and survive."

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