(Reuters) - Former college standout Patrick Rodgers, seeking his first PGA Tour title, produced bogey-free golf in dazzling sunshine to charge into a two-way tie for the lead after the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open outside San Diego on Saturday.
Four shots off the pace overnight, American Rodgers fired a five-under-par 67 on the challenging South Course at Torrey Pines to end the day level with defending champion Brandt Snedeker at nine-under 207 after 54 holes.
American Snedeker, bidding for his third victory at the coastal venue, birdied the 17th to join Rodgers at the top and narrowly missed a birdie attempt from 14 feet at the par-five last before tapping in for a 70.
On a crowded leaderboard, Taiwan's Pan Cheng-Tsung (69) and long-hitting American Tony Finau (67) are one shot behind, with eight others, including Olympic champion Justin Rose, two adrift. "The conditions were awesome today," Rodgers, whose round included a run of four birdies in five holes from the sixth, told CBS Sports. "This is why we come to San Diego, for the sun, and there was hardly any wind out there today ... it was fun to make a few birdies out there."
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The 24-year-old, who emulated Tiger Woods with a Stanford University record of 11 wins as a college player, tied for second at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship and he planned to lean on that and his amateur experience during his bid for victory in Sunday's final round.
"You have to learn from every experience," said Rodgers. "I've been fortunate to have a few chances on the PGA Tour and tons in college and I don't take those lightly.
"They're still great experiences down the stretch trying to figure out how to win so I feel very comfortable in contention. That's probably when I am the most comfortable out here and I'm really excited to have another chance tomorrow."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Andrew Both)