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Monday July 6th, 2015 7:30AM

Brown maintains lead in Milton Martin Classic, Palmer stays close

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
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GAINESVILLE -- Blake Palmer says he's starting to feel like he belongs among the golf professionals of the NGA Tour.<br /> <br /> Over the past three days, the Dawson County native has certainly played like an NGA veteran.<br /> <br /> Palmer fired a 2-under 70 on Saturday in the third round of the NGA's Milton Martin Honda Classic -- his third straight round under par at the four-day event held at Gainesville's Chattahoochee Golf Club. <br /> <br /> "Things are starting to come around for me; this is by far one of the best tournaments I've played since turning pro (five years ago)," said the 2005 Dawson County High graduate. "I just want to make a few putts tomorrow and see how it goes."<br /> <br /> Palmer -- who is tied for 11th at 8-under for the tournament -- has plenty of work ahead of him if he wants to catch leader Brandon Brown on Sunday. But Palmer is far from alone in that respect, as Brown maintained his pace at the front of the pack with his own 2-under on Saturday, putting him at 19-under for the week.<br /> <br /> "I felt good out there again today," said Brown, who opened the event with a stunning 10-under 62 on Thursday and has led ever since. "I feel confident I can finish this off."<br /> <br /> If he doesn't Justin Martinson might be there to take advantage.<br /> <br /> The Avondale, Pa., native charged into second place on Saturday courtesy a 7-under 65, moving within four strokes of Brown. Andy Winings is also alone in third at 14-under for the tournament, while Patton Kizzire is fourth at 12-under.<br /> <br /> "I just got off to a good start, and I felt good off the tee," Martinson said. <br /> <br /> Indeed, Martinson birdied his first hole of the day and bounced back from his lone bogey of the day on No. 3 with an eagle on the par 5 No. 4.<br /> <br /> "I hit all the smart shots today -- though I would have liked to drop a few more putts," said Martinson, now in his second full season in the NGA and looking for his first tour win. "I left a lot of putts short, but I like the way I'm hitting it right now, and we'll see what happens tomorrow.<br /> <br /> "It's a rundown. Brandon's a great player, and I love playing with him. He's a lot of fun out there too."<br /> <br /> Brown played even through the front nine on Saturday but birdied three holes on Nos. 10, 11 and 14 -- after making bogey on two straight days on No. 14.<br /> <br /> "My best shot of the day was on 11; I hit to within a foot for the birdie putt," Brown said. "I didn't hit my short irons like I would like early, but I got that straightened out. Tomorrow will be the same game plan as all week."<br /> <br /> That goes for Plamer as well, who is still not a full-time member of the NGA but has played plenty of professional golf in NGA events, as well as on the Open Golf Atlanta tour and with eGolf.<br /> <br /> "I was full time with eGolf two years ago and played all over the country, and even once on Africa," Palmer said. "So being able to play a tournament like this and sleep in my own bed is great."<br /> <br /> Palmer sank two birdies and had no bogeys on the day.<br /> <br /> "From tee to green I've been really solid," Palmer said. "And I'm feeling pretty good right now."
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