MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. – Andrew Novak changed accommodations this morning as spring breakers descended upon the panhandle, was called the wrong name by an enthusiastic fan, and made what could have been a disastrous double bogey at the daunting par-4 11th. But through it all, Novak held on to his three-stroke lead Saturday at the Emerald Coast Classic at Sandestin.
Novak entered the third round with a three-stroke lead over his playing partner, David Lipsky. Following a birdie at the par-4 10th, Novak’s fourth of the day, his lead swelled to six shots.
Then came the 522-yard, par-4 11th, which was into the wind and played as the toughest hole of the day. Novak took relief from the cart path before his second shot, but the drop actually cut off his angle to the green and forced him to punch out. Novak double-crossed the shot, hit into the water, and eventually salvaged a double bogey.
“I really wasn’t even thinking about the water,” Novak said. “I was essentially laying up. I had a pretty clean look at the fairway… I just made a bad swing and paid for it. That hole was playing so hard. I think David [Lipsky] hit 3-wood in and was just short of the green. But I like how I recovered.”
Novak, a Wofford College alumnus, rattled off five two-putt pars and drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-5 17th to mitigate the damage.
“I knew I wanted to get at least one (birdie) coming in. I had a look at No. 15 and missed it,” Novak said. “I thought my irons were great today. I was hitting my spots, executing shots how I wanted to. Still have to go get a little work with the driver. Knowing I’m playing well is a nice feeling to have going into tomorrow.”
As Novak looks to become the first wire-to-wire winner since Kramer Hickok won the 2018 DAP Championship presented by NewBrick, he will sleep on the first 54-hole lead of his career in a different rental property. When Novak found out a switch was necessary, his wife coordinated with Greyson Sigg, who had a nonrefundable reservation for this week but made the field for the Valero Texas Open on the PGA TOUR.
“He didn’t know he was going to be in the tournament… he wasn’t even in the top 10 until the last day (at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship); he backdoored the top-10,” Novak said. “He thought he was going to be here. It just kind of worked out this way.”
Lipsky will once again join Novak in the final pairing Sunday.
Lipsky, who earned his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at last July’s TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons, carded a 3-under 67 and his second consecutive bogey-free round. Lipsky’s last bogey came 47 holes ago at the par-3 16th, which was the seventh hole of his opening round Thursday. The Los Angeles, California native also birdied the par-4 18th for a third consecutive day.
Final-round tee times will run from 7:20 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. local time Sunday off the first tee.