LOS ANGELES (AFP) – World number four Patrick Cantlay fired a four-under par 68 in the California desert yesterday and will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the US PGA Tour American Express.
Cantlay, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, had shared the overnight lead with rookie Lee Hodges, but was alone atop the leaderboard after a round that featured six birdies and two bogeys on the Nicklaus Tournament course, one of three in use over the first three rounds of the event.
American Tom Hoge was a stroke back after a bogey-free six-under par 66 on the Stadium Course, toughest of the three.
“I felt like it was really solid golf,” Cantlay said. “I didn’t get the most out of it I possibly could, but another solid day and two more of those I should be right there.”
Although his three-putt bogey at his penultimate hole, the eighth, was disappointing, Cantlay said he putted well all day.
“The greens were a little beat up and it was hard to make putts. But I rolled it really well and I rolled it how I wanted to, I just didn’t get any to go in,” he said.
After opening the tournament on the La Quinta course, Cantlay will play on the Stadium Course, which will also host the final round.
“It’s a golf course that suits my game,” Cantlay said. “We’ll see how it plays tomorrow with the increased wind… I think usually you have to really put your foot on the gas and make a tonne of birdies. Tomorrow if the forecast stays the same it will not be that kind of day.”
Five players shared third place on 132, led by American Will Zalatoris who surged up the leaderboard with an 11-under par 61 on the Nicklaus Tournament course.
Zalatoris barely put a foot wrong, and even when he did – slipping on the tee at his final hole, the ninth – he came up with a birdie.
That capped a run of seven straight birdies to close a round that was 10 strokes better than his first-round effort.
“I think today I just gave myself chances, I hit a lot close and made a couple 20-, 30-footers to keep the round going and obviously making birdie on nine from the wrong fairway is kind of the icing on the cake,” Zalatoris said.