Jerry Kelly continued to spread his wings at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, firing a 5-under-par 67 on Saturday to boost his advantage to two shots at 12 under heading into the final round of the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs event at Richmond, Va.
Kelly’s strong second round came a day after he fired a 7-under 65 to take the opening-round lead at The Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course.
New Zealand’s Steven Alker (65 on Saturday) will play in the final group Sunday in second place, two shots behind Kelly. Doug Barron (67) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (67) are tied for third at 9 under.
After an up-and-down front nine that included four birdies and two bogeys, Kelly was 3 under on the back nine with birdies at Nos. 10, 13 and 16.
Kelly credited his inspired play and positive outlook to the one-year anniversary of the successful surgery his wife Carol had for kidney cancer.
“Attitude of gratitude for me out here, buddy,” Kelly said when asked what has been working for him on the golf course. “… It’s been a long year and we’re in a great place, so that’s it.”
Kelly is coming off a third-place finish at last week’s SAS Championship and has three Champions Tour titles this season.
“There’s just a calm, happy place right now going on,” Kelly said. “I just want it to continue. I don’t want it to come crashing down.”
Alker closed strong on Saturday with birdies on his final three holes to finish off his 65. He was 4 under over his final six holes on the day. Alker leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings, while Kelly is in fourth.
“If you’re two or three behind, you’re chasing, you know what I mean? Sometimes you tend to push it,” Alker said. “You know that the weather could be a factor tomorrow, but you need to make some birdies, so you just keep on trucking on. But I’d rather be 10 (under) than 7.”
Harrington, who is in second place in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, had a bogey-free round Saturday while moving into third place.
Kelly, Alker and Harrington each will aim for their fourth win on tour this season to tie leader Steve Stricker.
“I’ve got to play every hole as well as I can to try and get ahead of the game all day and wait for a run. Realistically, that’s it,” said Harrington, who is 6 under on par-5 holes during the first two rounds. “You just play and then hopefully you get that run where you make three, four, five birdies in a row quickly.”
Barron closed his second round with four birdies over his final seven holes.
A group of three tied for fifth place at 8 under includes Rob Labritz (68), Brian Gay (64) and South Korea’s K.J. Choi (65). Gay’s bogey-free 64 is the lowest round of the tournament so far.
Clouds and a slight chance of rain, with winds at 8 mph, are in the forecast for Sunday.
–Field Level Media