Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - Page 19 News List

US’ Scott Stallings holds big lead in Californian desert

AFP, LA QUINTA, California

American Scott Stallings made two eagles and five birdies during a flawless nine-under par 63 on Saturday that secured him a five-stroke lead at the US PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge.

Stallings has yet to drop a shot after 54 holes in the California desert and started yesterday’s final round on 22-under 194, poised to claim a third PGA Tour victory in as many seasons.

“I’ve been aggressive,” said the 27-year-old, whose third-round effort came on the Nicklaus Course, one of three par-72 layouts in use over the first three days of the event.

“I’ve been smart when I got out of position. Just because I played really good, doesn’t mean that I’ve hit it perfect on every single hole,” he said.

“I scrambled a little bit, but when I got out of position off the tee, I played smart. I hit it in the middle of the green and just kind of accepted par and moved on and was really aggressive when I had the opportunity,” Stallings said.

He said he would take the same approach into yesterday’s final round on the Palmer Course. The leader’s nearest rivals were Stewart Cink, Roberto Castro, Charles Howell, John Rollins and Charley Hoffman.

Cink carded a 66 to join the group sharing second on 199. Rollins carded a 64, Castro shot 69 and Howell and Hoffman both posted third-round 67s.

It was a further stroke back to a group of eight players on 200. They included Brian Stuard, who shot a career-low 62 on the Nicklaus course which could have been even better.

Stuard posted his second eagle of the day at the par-five 16th to get to 11-under for the day, but he could not manage a birdie at the par-three 17th and closed with a bogey.

Phil Mickelson had six birdies in his six-under 66 on the Palmer Course. His 11-under total saw him make the cut with two strokes to spare.

The cut came after three rounds to allow all players to play each course in the rotation.

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