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Sunday, Oct 19, 2014

Sports

Golf: Martin grabs lead in quest for first PGA title

AFP | Sunday, Oct 19, 2014

Ben Martin

LAS VEGAS - American Ben Martin, seeking his first US PGA Tour title, fired a nine-under par 62 to seize a two-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the Shriners Hospitals Open.

Martin made five birdies in a row from the 13th through 17th holes on his way to matching the day's low round and moving atop the leaderboard on 17-under 196 after 54 holes at TPC Summerlin.

"It was just one of those days when you get in the zone," Martin said.

"It seemed like every time I grabbed a club it was the perfect number. I was just trying to stay in the moment, trying to engage on every shot." Martin took the first 54-hole lead of his PGA career with Scotsman Russell Knox shooting 66 to stand on 198, his second-place position the best of his PGA career as he bids for his first crown.

Americans Jimmy Walker and Andrew Svoboda shared third on 200 with compatriots Scott Piercy, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Streelman and defending champion Webb Simpson sharing fifth on 201.

Martin, who missed the cut last week and in his first two Las Vegas starts, made 9 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

After opening with a 24-foot birdie putt, Martin took his lone bogey at the third then rebounded with birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh holes.

He began the back nine with a 47-foot birdie putt and then made his birdie run, opened and closed with 15-foot birdie putts at the par-5 13th and par-3 17th.

Martin achieved his best PGA showing with three third-place finishes earlier this year, most recently in June at the National.

Knox had his best PGA showing earlier this year as well, losing in a four-man playoff at the Honda Classic last March.

Simpson birdied three of the last six holes, the last from four feet on 18, to shoot 67 and give himself a chance at a title repeat.

"I stayed patient and was able to get on a run and hang in there," he said. "It's going to take a really special round for me to be in contention."

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