(Reuters) – Canadian Adam Hadwin provided the fireworks with a sizzling 59 to vault one stroke clear after Saturday’s third round of the $5.8 million CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California.
On a day when overnight leader Hudson Swafford made a mess of his last three holes, Hadwin took advantage of near-perfect greens at La Quinta Country Club, one of three venues hosting the pro-am event formerly called the Bob Hope Classic, as he became the eighth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour.
The 29-year-old from Saskatchewan rode a red-hot putter as he birdied seven of his first nine holes and six more after the turn to post a 17-under total of 199.
Hadwin did well to par the last, getting up and down from just off the back of the green before he removed his cap and hoisted his putter skywards, then smiled broadly as he was congratulated by the other players in his pro-am grouping.
“I didn’t want to make bogey, that’s the last thing I wanted to do,” Hadwin told Golf Channel about his final putt of the day, a four-footer at the par-four 18th. “I was nervous.
“This is my first event of the New Year so it’s exciting to get the nerves back again and then have a chance to win a golf tournament.”
Hadwin, only half joking when he said that whenever he hit a putt at La Quinta “it went in”, will be seeking his first PGA Tour victory in Sunday’s final round, having produced his best finish with a tie for fourth at the 2011 Canadian Open.
PGA Tour rookie Dominic Bozzelli sits alone in second place after carding a 69 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course, with fellow American Swafford (71) among a group of four trailing by two shots.
Swafford had been two ahead coming off the 15th green on the hosting Stadium Course but dropped three shots over the closing stretch as his round unravelled.
He double-bogeyed the par-five 16th after ending up at the bottom of a steep greenside bunker with his second shot, overflying the green with his third, chunking his chipped fourth 40 feet short of the cup and then three-putting.
Swafford compounded his misery by bogeying the par-three 17th after barely making the front of an island green with a nine-iron and hitting his approach putt 10 feet short.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, the biggest name competing this week, carded an erratic 73 on the Stadium Course to end the third round joint 21st at nine-under.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Andrew Both)