PEBBLE BEACH, United States (AFP) – Jim Furyk birdied six of the last eight holes to overtake Australian Matt Jones and grab a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the $6.8 million Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The 44-year-old American gave himself the chance to end a humbling streak of going winless in his past eight events when leading after 54 holes, not having converted a third-round lead into a US PGA Tour triumph since the 2010 Tour Championship, the most recent of his 16 tour titles.
Furyk fired a nine-under par 63, his lowest-ever round at Pebble Beach and one stroke off the course record, to stand on 18-under 197 with Aussie Jones, who finished with back-to-back bogeys, and American Brandt Snedeker each one stroke adrift.
“I really didn’t have any expectations. I wanted to come out and find out where my game was at,” Furyk said.
After playing the first three rounds over three different courses, the professionals and 25 celebrity teams that made the cut will play the final 18 holes at the famed par-72 Pebble Beach oceanside links.
The event is Furyk’s first of the 2014-15 campaign and the veteran credits his rest since the Ryder Cup with his success this week.
“I found a way to get the ball in the hole this week and I think part of that is being so fresh,” Furyk said.
Furyk blasted out of a greenside bunker inches from the cup at the par-5 second and put his approach at the fourth two feet from the hole, setting up birdies at each.
He closed the front nine with a birdie and ran off three birdies in a row starting at the 11th, the last of them from 31 feet. He added six-foot birdies at 15 and 16 and closed with a tap-in birdie at 18 to seize the lead.
Jones began his third round off the 10th tee at Pebble Beach, notching a five-foot birdie at the 13th and eight pars before torching the front side, his final nine holes of the day.
The 34-year-old from Sydney sank a 19-foot birdie at the first, then left an 84-foot eagle putt four feet shy but holed it for a birdie at the second. After a par, Jones ran off four birdies in a row, an 11-footer at the fourth, 15-footer at the fifth, a tap-in at the par-5 sixth and an eight-footer at the par-3 seventh.
But the run ended with back-to-back bogeys as Jones squandered the late lead. He found a greenside bunker and missed a nine-foot par putt at eight, then missed a six-foot par putt at nine.
Jones seeks his second US PGA Tour title, the first coming last April at the Houston Open when he birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Matt Kuchar for the crown.
American Nick Watney was fourth on 199 with countryman Kevin Chappell two strokes further back in fifth and a US pack of Pat Perez, Jon Curran, Andres Gonzales and Daniel Berger on 202.