SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Oklahoma City native Brant Jobe (Westlake, TX) needed the patience of Job on Thursday and it paid off for him by the end of the round. The six-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour used five birdies over a six-hole stretch on the back nine to rebound from a slow start and card a 6-under-par 66 and his 16-underpar 197 total is good enough for a two-stroke lead over Mike Grob (Billings, MT), a six-time winner on PGA TOUR Canada, after three rounds of the PGA TOUR Champions National Qualifying Tournament at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course.
The 36-hole leader in the event, Jobe didn’t have much going on his front nine, turning in even- par 35 and losing ground. He then used a birdie barrage of his own to ascend back up the leaderboard. After making a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 12, Jobe hit an 8-iron shot on the par-3 13th to within two feet and tapped in for birdie. He birdied Nos. 15-17, making 15-foot putts on each for birdie with the last birdie moving him back into the lead for good.
"I really didn’t play that well today and got lucky with the score I ended up with," Jobe said afterward. "I started grinding on the back nine and finally made a putt at the 12th hole. When I made that short one at the 13th, it was like a relief and then I made three more coming in. Tomorrow I’ll try not to beat myself because I tried hard to do that today on the front nine. I’ve put myself in a good spot and I’m happy with that but I’ve got one more big round to play."
Making his third appearance in the PGA TOUR Champions National Qualifying Tournament, Grob had a similar round to Jobe. After making six pars and a bogey over his first seven holes, the 52-year-old Grob then holed a 5-iron shot from 199 yards for an ace, the seventh of his career, at the par-3 8th hole to kickstart his round. A veteran on both the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour, Grob then reeled off five birdies in a six-hole stretch on his second nine, all with putts of six feet or less, to briefly take the lead. However at No. 18, after driving into the fairway bunker with a 3-wood, his bogey dropped him two strokes back of Jobe into solo second place.
"It feels like you need to make some birdies out here and if you’re not making them early, you get a little worried," the three-time Montana Amateur champion said. "That hole in one really helped."
Among those currently in the top 10 on the leaderboard are: Willie Wood/T3 (Edmond, OK), a winner on the PGA TOUR and two-time winner on the Champions Tour who was T4 in this event at the same course in 2013, and Steve Jones/T7 (Tempe, AZ), the winner of the 1996 U.S. Open and seven other PGA TOUR events.
Former University of Tulsa star Andre Bossert has a chance at a top-10 finish after a third-round 66 moved him into a tie for 17th at 8-under, one shot back of being tied for 10th. Former Oklahoma Sooner Glen Day is tied for 42nd at 4 under, Oklahoma City native Jeff Freeman is tied for 47th at 3 under and former Sooner Grant Waite is tied for 60th at 1 under.
At the end of 72 holes, the top-five finishers earn fully-exempt status through the re-order in the 2016 season, while the next seven players will be conditionally exempt. In addition, the top-30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on PGA TOUR Champions next year.
Q-School Notes: With ideal scoring conditions for the third straight day, there were 58 scores below par compared to 46 sub-par rounds yesterday and 44 sub-par rounds on the first day. The field scoring average was 69.025 compared to 69.850 yesterday and 70.050 on Tuesday. In addition to Mike Grob’s ace, Argentina’s Cesar Monasterio made two eagles in his round (9th/15th) and he and his countryman, Jose Coceres, posted 7-under 64s, the low third-round scores of the field. Robert Thompson, the medalist at the 2008 National Qualifying Tournament, jumped 20 spots in the standings into a T10 after shooting 65. Through the first three rounds, the hardest hole has been the par-4 18th (4.204), yielding just 21 birdies. The medalist at this year’s National Qualifying Tournament will earn a check for $30,000.