08/01/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/01/2020 17:44
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Brendon Todd's comeback is on the verge of a coronation.
He'll face the biggest test of his career Sunday at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, though.
Todd's two wins earlier this season were an incredible story after he spent years plumbing the depths of professional golf. To earn his third victory of the season, he'll need to hold off several of the game's biggest stars on one of the TOUR's most penal courses.
He is 12 under par and leads Byeong-Hun An by a single stroke.
Rickie Fowler is just two back. A rejuvenated Brooks Koepka is three behind after charging into contention with six birdies on his final 10 holes Saturday. And Justin Thomas is still within shouting distance, sitting another shot off the lead.
No one has been in this position more than Todd this season. This is his fourth 54-hole lead of the season, the most on TOUR in 2020. He thinks his steady game is well-suited to withstand final-round pressure but also knows he failed to convert his last two 54-hole leads.
'I just hit the ball straight and putt well, so on golf courses where I'm near the lead it bodes well for me to do it again in the fourth round,' Todd said Saturday. 'Previous to this season, I always prided myself on playing well in final rounds and holding onto leads. I haven't done nearly as well in the final rounds this year since I've won twice. I think for me it's just kind of hit the reset button, go out tomorrow, be Brendon Todd and play my best.'
He converted the first 54-hole lead of his career into his first win, at the 2014 AT&T Byron Nelson. He had to wait five years to be in that position again, but protected his lead at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. It was the second of two consecutive wins.
He found himself back in the lead the next week after shooting 62 in the third round of The RSM Classic, but ran out of steam and shot 2-over 72. The same thing happened at the Travelers Championship. He shot 61 on Saturday to take the lead over Dustin Johnson, but stumbled on the closing holes to shoot 75.
It's difficult to maintain the momentum after going so low. Todd won't have to worry about this week. Saturday at TPC Southwind was a battle. Todd hit just half the fairways and 11 greens in regulation. His putter was still there to bail him out, though. Todd is second in Strokes Gained: Putting this week. He holed four putts from outside 10 feet Saturday.
'I was battling my swing a little bit, but I'm excited to be in this position and feel like if I can go out there and swing a little better and keep this putting momentum going, I'll be in good shape,' Todd said.
He made five birdies Saturday but also had four bogeys. One of the shortest hitters on TOUR, Todd struggled out of the wet Bermudagrass rough. Only seven players are ranked lower than Todd in driving distance this season, and three play on PGA TOUR Champions. His lack of length makes this season's success even more remarkable.
'I was just fading it a little bit more off the tee than I would like to. I generally do fade the ball a little bit off the tee, but I missed a handful of fairways. A yard right and that was just far enough from the fairway to end up with a pretty bad lie and not have a chance to get to the green,' Todd said. 'I think my legs are a little bit tired late in the day and that doesn't every bode well for me. For me it's getting some rest and coming out with good energy tomorrow and good focus.'
He'll have plenty to think about Saturday evening as he rests before the final round. Not only is he on the verge of the biggest win of his career, but it would also give him the lead in the FedExCup and Wyndham Rewards Top 10, and make him the prohibitive favorite to win PGA TOUR Player of the Year.
That's heady stuff for a player who was 795th in the world ranking this week last year. A win Sunday would be well deserved and add another chapter to Todd's incredible story.