Ben Griffin produced another bogey-free round on Saturday to stretch his lead to three strokes over Carl Yuan at the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi.
Griffin, chasing his first Tour title, opened the day with a two-shot lead and piled up six birdies in the first 15 holes.
He missed the green at the last three holes but managed to par all three to sign for a six-under-par 66 that gave him a 20-under-par total of 196 at the Country Club of Jackson.
China’s Yuan had seven birdies and two bogeys in his five-under-par 67 for 17-under 199, one stroke in front of Scott stallings, Sweden’s Henrik Norlander and Luke List. Stallings matched the low round of the day with a 65 while Norlander and List both carded 68s.
South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout is 10th on 13-under 203 after a bogie-free round of 68 that included four birdies. Countryman Erik van Rooyen (69) is a further shot behind.
Coming off an impressive 63 on Friday, Griffin picked up where he left off with birdies at the 2nd and 3rd holes. He birdied the 9th and 11th before rolling in a 22-foot birdie at 13 that pushed his lead to three strokes.
Yuan briefly cut the deficit to two before Griffin rolled in a six-foot putt for his final birdie of the day at 15.
Griffin said his 66 was just what he’d targeted.
“I felt like that was a good goal, try to get three [birdies] on each side,” said the 27-year-old, who stepped away from the game in 2021 to take a job as a mortgage loan officer.
“I was very proud of myself the way I stuck to the game plan, and I missed a few tee shots on the back nine but was able to escape, and that’s always been one of the strengths of my career.
“It’s fun when I mis-hit shots because it gives me the opportunity to pull off something creative, but it’s a lot more fun when you have stress-free golf, and I felt like I did a good job of that for probably 14, 15 holes today.”
The tournament is part of the tour’s FedEx Cup Fall series, with players seeking to secure their cards for 2024.
At 66 in the standings coming into the week, Griffin’s place is secure. A victory could see him break into the top 60 and earn berths in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Genesis Invitational.
Griffin, a vegan, also admitted to a little extra motivation to win a tournament sponsored by one of the United States’ largest poultry producers.
“I just want the headline to say ‘Vegan wins chicken championship,'” he said. “That’s kind of a motivator for me.”
© Agence France-Presse
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