Bud Cauley came close to winning the Hotel Fitness Championship in its inaugural year, shooting 17 under and finishing three strokes back of the champion, Trevor Immelman, last year.
He’s in the running again, thanks to a 5-under 67 that put him at 13 under heading into today’s final round at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
He is tied for fourth place, two strokes back of the leader, Colt Knost.
“It’s always nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well,” said Cauley, 24. “They’ve changed the course a little bit with some of the bunkering and the tee shots – and obviously No. 18 is a lot different – but I’ve had good vibes coming in and I’m trying to keep it going.”
Last year, all of Cauley’s rounds were between 65 and 69. This year, they’ve been between 66 and 70.
On Saturday, he birdied Nos. 1 and 2 en route to a 4-under 32 on the front nine.
“I got off to a good start,” he said. “I maybe could have had a few more (birdies) on the back, but it got difficult, it got very windy, and I’ll take it. I finished two back, after starting four back, and I’m moving in the right direction so I’ll try to get off to a quick start in the final round and see what happens.”
The tournament, which in its second year has a $1 million purse, including $180,000 for the champion, includes players in the top 75 on the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 to 200 in the FedEx Cup rankings. The Tour Finals will decide 25 PGA Tour cards for next season.
“You can make some birdies and get off to a quick start here,” Cauley said.
At only 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, Cauley was asked how he’s able to generate such power; he’s hit 26 of 42 fairways, 36 of 54 greens in regulation and totaled 77 putts over the three rounds.
“I work at all of it,” he said of his training regimen. “When I’m home, I get working with my trainer … and try to generate more speed and try to stay healthy, also.”
The shot of the tournament came in the second round, when Bill Lund had a hole-in-one on the fourth hole on the way to a 68, which put him in 11th place at 7 under. But he’s now in 40th at 4 under and he can thank a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th Saturday. His approach shot came up about 70 yards short and in the water. Then, he shanked a shot across the fairway before hitting over the green and one-putting for a 75. … The hardest hole has been the par-7th, where players have averaged a score of 3.258 in the tournament. The easiest? The par-5 2nd, where the average has been a 4.324, including 19 of the tournament’s 42 eagles. … As part of Hometown Team Day, fans who donned apparel of the Komets, TinCaps or Mad Ants got a free program. Mascots of those teams were at the course, as was the D-League championship trophy. At one point, Komets mascot Icy D. Eagle worked the concessions stand.