The scores were low Saturday during the third round of the Web.comTour’s Utah Championship, but University Place’s Michael Putnam made the biggest move of them all.
Putnam, who started the day two shots off the lead and tied for fifth place, fired a back-nine of 6-under 30 on the way to an 8-under round of 63 – good for a 17-under 196 and a four-shot lead heading into today’s final round at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy, Utah.
Meanwhile, Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, just one back of second-round leader Morgan Hoffmann when the day began, shot a steady 2-under 69 and was tied for third at 12 under.
Putnam, who is coming off a broken wrist that ended his 2011 season last June, scorched the 6,952-yard, par-71 Willow Creek layout with eight birdies – including five in a row on the back side, beginning at No. 11 – and no bogeys.
“I didn’t birdie the two easy holes, 10 and 17. But I birdied 11, which is probably one of the hardest holes of the day,” Putnam said.
His scorecard also had four 2s on it, as he birdied all the par 3s on a day when there were 10 scores of 4 under or better.
The Life Christian graduate holds a four-shot lead over Robert Streb, who shot 6-under 65 on Saturday.
For the day, Putnam was first in greens in regulation (87 percent) and third in putts per GIR (1.638) – a testament to the accuracy that led to his bogey-free round.
Putnam, who came from one stroke off the lead to win this tournament two years ago, will be at the head of the pack this time as he attempts to become the first two-time winner.
“I seem to play pretty well most every round. So I’m looking forward to playing well,” Putnam said. “I just like playing around here. It reminds me of my home course back at home, Tacoma Country and Golf Club.”
Putnam and Gonzales will play together for a second consecutive day, along with Streb.
LANGER IN THE LEAD
Bernhard Langer surged into the lead at the U.S. Senior Open in Lake Orion, Mich., after shooting a 6-under 64 to move to 10 under, putting him ahead by four strokes.
The two-time Masters champion led a group of five players that included Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin at 6-under 204.
Seattle native Fred Couples (65) was another shot back, along with Fred Funk and Jay Haas.
DEERE GETTING TIGHT
Troy Matteson shot a 5-under 66 to take a three-shot lead over three-time defending champion Steve Stricker into the final round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
Both Matteson, who was at 18 under, and Stricker (66) bogeyed the last hole, setting up their final-round pairing together at TPC Deere Run.
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson (66) climbed into contention at 14 under, along with left-hander Brian Harman.
GATOR WINS PUBLINKS
T.J. Vogel made six birdies over a seven-hole stretch, coasting to a 12-and-10 win over Kevin Aylwin at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Midway, Utah.
With the victory, the University of Florida senior earned a spot in the 2013 Masters.
Francesco Molinari held off a barrage of challengers at the Scottish Open, shooting a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Anders Hansen into the final round in Inverness, Scotland.
Molinari, who held the overnight lead with Alexander Noren, remained consistent in changing weather to stay in front at 17 under. Phil Mickelson (65) was three shots back in a tie with three others.