Russell Henley nabbed six birdies in a six-under-par 65 on Saturday to push his lead in the Mayakoba Championship to six strokes.
The 33-year-old American, who shared the lead for three rounds at last year’s US Open before a Sunday collapse, had a 22-under total of 191 heading into the final round at El Camaleon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Will Gordon fired a three-under-par 68 and Patton Kizzire posted a 67 to share second on 16 under.
Ireland’s Seamus Power had one of two holes-in-one on the day in his 63 for 15 under. The other ace belonged to American Greyson Sigg, who carded a 67 and joined a group on 13 under.
South Africa’s Dean Burmester is on 11 under after a bogey-free round 64 that included seven birdies.
“I had some nice par saves, made a lot of good putts from five to eight feet and just hung in there,” said Henley, who had opened the tournament with back-to-back 63s.
“On the back nine, I started hitting it better and got into a little groove. Overall it wasn’t as solid tee to green as the first two days, but still managed to get the ball in the hole.”
Henley, who notched the most recent of his three PGA Tour wins at the 2017 Houston Open, started with a birdie at the opening hole.
He added back-to-back birdies at the 5th and 6th – where his wedge shot into the green left him a four-footer.
He added another birdie at the 8th, and kept the pedal down with birdies at 13 and 15 – where he rolled in a long birdie bomb.
He said he was “uncomfortable” over plenty of shots, and was particularly glad to escape with a par at the second after losing his tee shot and taking a penalty stroke.
“I definitely didn’t want to drop a shot, but also knew after I hit an eight-iron in there that worst case, I’m even through two.
“I didn’t put a crazy amount of pressure on myself and rolled it in.”
Henley’s 54-hole total is the lowest so far this season – and just one shot lower than Viktor Hovland’s winning Mayakoba score last year.
Nevertheless, Henley said he wouldn’t be able to coast on Sunday.
“Out here you’ve got to keep attacking,” he said. “Everybody’s so good and everybody can go low.”
Power’s eight-under 63, which featured two eagles and four birdies, showed just how true Henley’s words were.
He rose from 22nd to fourth, propelled by a hole-in-one at the par-three 8th and a hole out for eagle at the 11th.
“The hole-in-one, I think it was 138 yards,” he said. “I hit it to maybe four feet on Thursday, very same numbers, very same winds, so I hit the same shot and landed a foot long left and spun back in.
“Funny enough, on 11 I hit a wedge shot in there to a very similar pin to maybe like 10 inches yesterday and today it just fell in.
“I had a couple of good visuals for those shots, which helps, but obviously need a lot of luck for those to actually fall in.”
© Agence France-Presse