After holding the lead at the end of a Nationwide Tour round for the first time following the second round of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, Roberto Castro decided he liked the vantage point. He shot a 4-under 67 Saturday and heads into the final round with a one-stroke advantage over his playing partner Steven Bowditch. The two will play together again Sunday.
Castro entered his round with a streak of 38 consecutive holes without a bogey, dating to last week's Cox Classic. He birdied the third and seventh holes on the front nine and added three more birdies on the back nine. He extended his bogey-free streak to 53 holes before giving a shot back on No. 16.
"I hit my approach into a goofy spot. Bogey. It was no big deal," Castro said. "I regrouped and hit a really nice shot on 17."
Even with that lone blemish on his scorecard, Castro likes his position with one round to play. "The first thing I learned in my professional career is that if you want to win, you need to shoot the low round on the final day," he said. "That's not always the case, and it doesn't mean I'm going to try harder. But I gotta play a good round."
A win would give Castro fully exempt Nationwide Tour status for the remainder of this season and all of next year, so a lot is riding on Sunday's 18 holes for the Georgia Tech graduate who has no status on the Tour. "Obviously if I win [Sunday], it will mean more. I just need to keep playing good golf, and it will pay off," he added.
Of the five players immediately behind Castro, four have won on the Nationwide Tour, including Bowditch who picked up his lone Tour title in his homeland of Australia in 2005 (Jacob's Creek Open Championship). "He's playing great," Bowditch said of Castro. "He's going to be tough to beat."
Bowditch averted a disaster on the par-3 17th when, where he hit a "duck-hook 4-iron." After a long wait to get a ruling, with his ball behind the bleachers adjacent to the 18th tee, he received a free drop about 50 yards to the front-left of the green. He chipped into the bunker then got up and down for bogey. "It was a terrible golf shot," he said of his effort off the tee. "I was just trying not to kill too much momentum."
It must have worked because Bowditch came back on the closing hole and made birdie.
Two back of Bowditch and three behind Castro is Scott Gutschewski, who acknowledged he hasn't had a great putting day yet this week. He knows he'll need that Sunday.