LOS ANGELES: Ricky Barnes, bidding for a first US PGA Tour title, fired seven birdies in a five-under par 67 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Texas Open.
Barnes, 35, closed with a bogey on the TPC San Antonio Oaks course, where he pulled his tee shot left.
But his 11-under total of 205 was enough to keep him one in front of second-round leader Brendan Steele, who seized solo second with a birdie at the last that capped an even par 72 for 206.
“I took advantage of my good shots, converted on my birdies and then obviously a bad finish, bad swing at the end,” Barnes said. “But actually, I still even hit a good putt there — overall if you would have told me five-under today, I would have taken it.”
Barnes said he’d try to stick to his game plan on Sunday as he pursues a first tour title.
“This is why you play the game, right? Come in on Sundays and have a chance to win,” he said.
Steele, who claimed his only PGA Tour title in San Antonio in 2011, got a close-up view of Barnes’ game last week in South Carolina and thought it was “looking really good”.
His own birdie at the par-five 18th lifted him a stroke clear of England’s Luke Donald and Charley Hoffman, but Steele said he was “really struggling”.
“I was able to make enough recovery shots to not make many mistakes and I was able to be patient enough and make a couple of birdies at the end,” he said.
Former world number one Donald, who shared second at the Heritage last week, carded a 68. Hoffman, a three-time winner on the US tour, signed for a 70 to join him on 207.
“I played pretty solid golf, especially my last nine holes,” Donald said. “It was a good solid round.
“Sure feels good to be back in contention again and having chances to win. That’s why we work hard to get in these positions,” added Donald, who failed to qualify for the Masters this year and hasn’t won on the US or European Tour since 2012.
Donald said putting was the key.
“I switched putters last week, very similar model, same head, different shaft going in it, little different look when I’m looking down at the ball,” he said.
“But I think I was just looking for that one good tournament to kind of get under my belt and gain some confidence. I felt like my game has been pretty good this season, just haven’t been getting much out of it. Nice to see things turning around a little bit.”