(Reuters) – Patrick Rodgers moved closer to his first PGA Tour victory, and a place in the British Open, when he retained a two-stroke lead after the third round at the John Deere Classic in Illinois on Saturday.
The former world number one amateur was not at his very best, but a three-under-par 68 left him with the same advantage at the end of the day as when he started.
Rodgers posted a 16-under 197 score at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, while fellow Americans Daniel Berger (63) and Scott Stallings (64) rocketed into second place on 14 under.
Sixteen players are lurking within five strokes of Rodgers, who will continue to play with an attacking mindset.
“This is a nice course to play with the lead because you have to keep the pedal down all day,” Rodgers told CBS television after his eight-foot par putt at the last sneaked in.
“Sixteeen-under’s not going to win tomorrow so I need to go out and make a lot of birdies. It was nice to have that mindset today. You’re not really holding on, you’re still trying to be aggressive and make birdies.”
The winner on Sunday will earn a spot in next week’s British Open.
World number 20 Berger, already exempt for Royal Birkdale, continued his sizzling form, moving into contention for the third time in four starts.
He won the St. Jude Classic in Memphis five weeks ago, before losing a playoff to Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.
He has not played since that second-placing and did not want to go into a major without a tune-up under his belt.
“I love playing the week before a major so this fit into my schedule quite well,” he said after matching his career-low round on tour.
“In Memphis I drove the ball phenomenally and this week I haven’t driven it so well but I’ve kept it in play for the most part. I’ve made a bunch of putts, which has been the difference.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)