__STILLWATER, Okla.—Lunch is going to taste a whole lot better for LSU's__John Peterson after the senior rolled in a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole—a putt that lipped out but somehow then fell back into the hole—to finish off a roller coaster third round with an even-par 72 and take the clubhouse lead at the NCAA Championship with a five-under 211 total.
Only two hours earlier, it looked as if the hopes of the Fort Worth native posting a low number and seeing if any of the other contenders who tee off in the afternoon wave might be able to catch him were dashed after Peterson shot a four-over 40 on the front nine. A three-putt bogey on the par-4 fifth was followed by a three-putt double bogey on the par-4 sixth and another bogey on No. 8.
But playing in his final college round, Peterson hung tough, making a 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th hole, then an eight-foot birdie on the par-5 14th.
"The birdie on the 11th, that got me thinking I could actually make birdies today," Peterson said. "I felt like I can get control of this and I can get this back."
At three under for the tournament heading to the treacherous 17th hole, a 471-yard par 4 playing into the wind, Peterson found the fairway and then hit was hit called the shot of the day, a low 4-iron that landed seven feet from the cup. He converted the birdie effort, then made one more on the home hole to recover from a seemingly horrible day
"I'm proud of the way I came back," Peterson said. "I really do like the back nine here. I've played it well forever."
"It's a tough course," Peterson continued. "These pins are hard today. The wind is obviously going to make it more tough this afternoon. I knew it was going to get harder. If I got after it for nine holes, my last nine holes of my career, I figured I could make up some ground and get myself back into the lead."
Peterson now waits to see what the players in the afternoon wave can do. Georgia Tech's James White starts his round at 1:50 p.m. CDT sitting at four under par. He's playing with UCLA's Patrick Cantlay and Illinois' Luke Guthrie, both at three under par.
After lunch, Peterson planned to go back to his hotel, watched the PGA Tour's Memorial on TV and keep track of what's going on at Karsten Creek via the computer.
"If it goes like it has all spring, I'm going to get ready for a playoff," Peterson said, having played in three of them since the start of the year. He won versus Jordan Spieth to claim the Jones Cup title in February but lost in a playoff during a Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic of New Orleans and again at the SEC Championship in April.