By CHIP CIRILLO
Robby Shelton is trying to golf by the motto he learned at Alabama.
“Just keep going lower,” Shelton said. “That’s what they made us do. When you have a lead or something, you just have to keep going lower. We had a trainer back in school — his name was Rocky – and that was his motto. Don’t play steady golf, just try to make more birdies.”
The former Alabama All-American made seven birdies as he shot a 7-under-par 65 to take the third-round lead at the Nashville Golf Open on Saturday.
Shelton leads by three strokes over Henrik Norlander, Brian Campbell and Chase Seiffert in the Web.com Tour event benefitting the Snedeker Foundation.
Shelton is 14-under-par at 202 after 54 holes at the 7,600-yard Nashville Golf and Athletic Club in Brentwood.
“I felt really good on the front nine,” Shelton said. “I was making a ton of putts on the front and that’s probably the harder side. I knew from there I could just cruise. The back nine’s not too hard: three par 5s.”
Shelton birdied five of the first nine holes before adding two more on the back nine.
He finished second at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship after losing in a playoff two weeks ago.
“I kept trying to play par golf,” Shelton said. “I mean, it’s Web.com, you have to make birdies. I had a lead and I just wanted to hold onto it so bad and you just can’t do that out here. Just keep making birdies.”
Shelton’s confidence is soaring after also tying for fourth at the Dormie Network Classic last week.
“My freshman year in college it was just like this,” Shelton said. “I was super confident with my game. It was easy again. I had no fear at all. Just going at pins, it makes golf a lot of fun.”
Shelton was the 2014 SEC Player of the Year as a freshman on Alabama’s NCAA champion team. He tied for third as an individual at the NCAA Tournament.
He led the open after the first round before falling into a sixth-place tie Friday.
His best shot was a 12-foot putt for par on 10. He also nailed downhill 30-footer for a birdie on 4.
Norlander, a Swedish golfer, shot a 6-under 66 to put him in a second-place tie with Campbell and Seiffert at 11-under 205 for the tournament.
“I was 4-over par for six holes Thursday and I’m 15-under since then, so I know I’m playing really well,” Norlander said. “I changed my putting grip completely on Monday and actually made more putts this week than I have all year. It feels weird every time I stand over it, but I see the ball go in and I feel good over it.”
Norlander carded five birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
He missed qualifying for his PGA Tour card by $650 last season and he was $800 short three years ago. Tour cards will be earned by a points system this year instead of money earnings as in the past.
Brian Campbell, the 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year at Illinois, shot a 5-under 67 with five birdies.
“Putting was good on the front nine and I definitely missed a few on the back, but I can’t complain after a bogey-free 5-under so I’m happy with the day,” Campbell said. “I like how I’m rolling it, I like how I’m driving it and just keeping it in play.”
Seiffert, a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference golfer at Florida State who was part of a three-way tie for first after the second round, shot a 2-under 70 with two birdies.
Bo Hoag, Xinjun Zhang, Andy Zhang, Horacio Leon, Chris Baker and Ryan Brehm are tied for fifth at 10-under 206 for the tournament.
Former Lipscomb Academy/University star Dawson Armstrong finished his darkness-delayed second round with a 1-over-par 73. He missed the cut with a 4-over 148 for 36 holes.
Photo from Web.com Tour.