San Francisco: Brian Stuard rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at the 18th to join a three-way tie for the US PGA Tour Safeway Open lead on Saturday alongside James Hahn and Australian Cameron Percy.
The trio topped a crowded leaderboard on a day when more than half a dozen players held or shared the lead at Silverado Resort in Napa, California.
Stuard, chasing a second career PGA title to go with his 2016 Zurich Classic crown, started the day five adrift.
But he got rolling with birdies at the third fourth and fifth.
He made a four-foot birdie putt at 12 and a two-footer at 14 before picking up a stroke at the par-five 18th, despite finding the rough off the tee.
“You’ve got to make a bunch of birdies, that’s the name of the game this week,” said Stuard, whose six-under 66 put him on 16-under 200.
Hahn also played without a bogey, firing five birdies in a five-under 67 for his share of the lead.
“I just had a goal in mind today just to kind of have a clean scorecard,” said Hahn, who returned in January after being sidelined almost eight months with an elbow injury.
“Would have been nice to birdie a couple of the par fives, but anytime you birdie three out of the four par threes I think you’re doing something good.”
Percy carded a four-under par 68, moving to 16-under with his fourth birdie of the day, with a 32-foot putt at the 10th.
Bogeys at 11 and 14 followed, but he birdied 16 and 17 to get back atop the board in the quest for a first US PGA Tour title at the age of 46.
“It would mean the world to me,” said Percy — who struggled throughout the round with a flare up of pain in his ribs.
“This week it freed up, and then today the last few shots on the range really hurt,” he said, adding that it prevented him from turning completely after impact with the ball.
“But I managed to keep it in play and hit a few nice wedges at the end there and got around in a good score.”
Overnight leader Sam Burns struggled to a one-over par 72 that left him a stroke off the lead on 201.
He was tied with Mexican-born Norwegian Kristoffer Ventura, who carded a 66, and Harry Higgs, who followed his second-round 62 with a 70.
Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open champion, carded a 65 to head a group on 202 that also included Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (65), Scotland’s Russell Knox (70), Doug Ghim (69) and D.J. Trahan (70). — AFP