Ben Martin fired a two-under-par 70 in Saturday’s third round to keep a two-stroke lead at the Corales Puntacana Championship.
The 34-year-old American, whose only PGA Tour victory came eight years ago in Las Vegas, stood on 14-under 202 after 54 holes at the Dominican Republic resort.
American Chad Ramey was second on 204 after shooting 69 while Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas seized third on 205 with a bogey-free 65.
Most of the world’s top golfers are at the WGC Match Play Championship in Texas this week, leaving the best of the rest to compete for a title in the Caribbean.
World No 565 Martin, seeking a wire-to-wire triumph, led by one after 18 holes and two after 36.
Martin followed birdies on the par-five fourth and seventh with bogeys on the next hole each time, then began the back nine with a birdie and had back-to-back birdies at the par-five 14th and 15 before a bogey at 16.
“I felt like it was solid,” Martin said. “All in all, pretty pleased with two-under par.
“I had a lot more in-between numbers. Some days it’s a nice stock shot and you hit it close and other days you’re between clubs and it’s hard to hit it close, but I made a few nice putts on the back nine.”
Martin was pleased with how he handled the unfamiliar feeling of playing in the last duo.
“Not being in a final pairing in I don’t remember when, so a little bit of nerves like to start the round, but I made a couple pars and then birdied the third hole to kind of settle in,” he said.
“I was pleased with the way I handled a little bit of the pressure and I think that will benefit me tomorrow. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been trying to do all week, which is just enjoy being out there, not try too hard and sort of see what happens at the end.
“You have a little nerves, but that’s why we all like to test ourselves and see where we are, so it will be a fun day.”
Vegas had five birdies and an eagle to move into contention for his fourth PGA title and first since the 2017 Canadian Open.
“I made a few good putts, but mainly just keeping a pretty aggressive mentality throughout the round,” Vegas said.
A fourth-place pack on 206 included Australian Cameron Percy, Belgian Thomas Detry and Americans Martin Trainer, David Lipsky and Nate Lashley.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, struggled with back issues and fell seven adrift with a 73.
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