LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Troy Matteson has turned his
rookie season into a rousing success. He did it in four weeks, too.
Now, instead of worrying about job security -- something he did
continuously until his first PGA Tour victory a week ago -- Matteson
can start thinking about the possibility of playing in the 2007
Matteson birdied the last two holes Saturday, finished with a
7-under 65 and had a one-shot lead at 19-under 197 after the third
round of the Funai Classic at Disney.
"It's been good to see my game turn around," said Matteson, a
three-time All-American at Georgia Tech and the 2002 NCAA champion.
"To win out here once is pretty difficult. To do it two or three
or four times, it's extremely difficult."
Joe Durant (64) was second at 18 under, one stroke ahead of
first- and second-round leader Justin Rose (72). Twenty others --
including Davis Love III, Mark Calcavecchia and Mike Weir -- were
within six shots of the leader.
Matteson, meanwhile, is starting to get accustomed to being on
the leaderboard. He tied for eighth four weeks ago at the Southern
Farm Bureau Classic, then had a sixth-place finish the following
week in Greensboro. The two-week spree moved him from 172nd on the
money list to 143rd -- in position to retain his full-time tour
It got even better last week in Las Vegas, where Matteson won
the Frys.com Open for his first Tour title. The victory vaulted him
to 71st on the money list.
Now, he's looking to make it two in a row -- and has a shot at
qualifying for the Masters. He has to finish the season in the top
40 on the money list to earn a spot at Augusta National. A win at Disney
"I didn't think the Masters would be something I would worry
about until I was in my mid-30s, even if you get in at all,"
Matteson said. "There's a lot of great players that don't get into
that event every year, so if I ever get into that event, it would
be a thrill of a lifetime."
Durant and Rose would be thrilled with just a win.
Durant hasn't won since March 2001 at Doral, a five-year streak
he's ready to end.
"You always go through periods of doubt," Durant said. "The
guys are so good and you wonder if you can still cut the mustard at
all. You just keep grinding, you keep playing, you keep working on
your game and hopefully you'll start to see some positive signs."
Durant saw plenty of positive signs Saturday, especially on the
front nine of the Magnolia Course. He made five birdies and an
eagle for a 29. He didn't play as well on the back, but lipped out
a birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him a 63 and the low
score of the round.
He settled for staying near the head of the field.
Rose was there, too. Still buoyed by his 12-under 60 on
Thursday, the Englishman completed the second round Saturday
morning and began the third with a four-shot lead. He faded fast,
though, shooting 2 over on the front.
Rose may be best known for his dramatic finish as a 17-year-old
amateur in the 1998 British Open, when he chipped in for birdie on
the final hole to tie for fourth. But recently he has developed a
penchant for falling back in final rounds.
He entered the final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship
last month tied with eventual tournament winner Tiger Woods in
second place. Rose closed with a 1-over 72 and finished tied for
fourth at 7 under -- nine strokes behind Woods.
A week later at the Canadian Open, Rose was 11 under and had a
one-shot lead heading into the final 18 holes. He shot a 4-over 74
and ended in a tie for 14th, seven strokes behind winner Jim Furyk.
At Disney last year, Rose was on the verge of winning his first
PGA Tour title after taking a one-shot lead at 23 under with three
holes to play. But he bogeyed the 16th from the rough, then pulled
his tee shot on the 18th into a hazard and scrambled for another
He finished two shots behind Lucas Glover.
He hopes his fade Saturday was a one-time hiccup.
"I don't think you accept it," Rose said. "If you keep doing
everything right and you keep doing the same things and create the
right mind-set you can keep playing great golf. It shouldn't
disappear. I just feel like a couple of things maybe fundamentally
got a little bit ragged today."
Calcavecchia shot a 63, the low score of the third round.
... Matteson sank a 25-footer for birdie on No. 17. "That's where
you steal one from the field," he said. ... The total purse is