PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic: Adam Long took over the lead with a stretch of three straight birdies on the back nine and finished with key par saves for an 8-under 64 and a two-shot lead Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.
Hudson Swafford had to settle for nothing but pars on the back nine for a 69 and was two shots behind.
It’s nice when those days are like that where you’re just kind of feeling the putter and you’re making putts, said Long, who one-putted nine of his last 10 holes. I wasn’t thinking about a whole lot of things. I was just trying to make everything.
Long, coming off a tie for 13th at Winged Foot last week in the U.S. Open, matched the low round of the day and will going for his second PGA Tour victory. His other was in January 2019 when he birdied the last hole of the Desert Classic to beat Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin.
He has a little more separation going into the final round in the Dominican Republic. Long was at 17-under 199, with only five other players within five shots of the lead.
Swafford was at 15 under and will be in the final group. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada twice chipped in for birdie late in his round of 67, leaving him three shots behind. Xinjun Zhang of China had a 68 and was at 13 under, while Nate Lashley (65) and Sean O’Hair (70) were five shots behind.
Long took off with five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn, and he really poured it on when Swafford began to stall. Along with birdies on both par 5s, Nos. 12 and 14, Long hit a tricky shot from a flyer lie in the rough on the 13th, and it came out perfectly to 8 feet pin-high for birdie.
He also caught a break on his one bad swing, a hook off the tee at the 16th that appeared to catch enough trees to settled about 5 yards away from the out-of-bounds stakes. He sent that right of the green and pitched beautifully to save par.
Long had another key save on the 18th when he had mud on his ball that sent it it to the right, just on the edge of a bunker. He chipped that down to about 4 feet to protect a bogey-free round.
Hughes played with Long and felt like he was further behind than he was.
I didn’t have much going today and I was watching Adam play awesome, so it was like getting run over by a semi, Hughes said. But hung in here. My caddie did a good job of reminding me of just hanging tough and waiting for a little run there.
It happened when Hughes least expected it. From left of the green, his chip was running hot when it banged into the pin and dropped for birdie. After another birdie on the 16th, he came up just short of the green on the par-3 17th hole that runs along the Caribbean, and pitched that with perfect pace into the cup.
It was one of only four birdies on the 17th in the third round.
A couple of chip-ins and a nice birdie there on 16, so that definitely … gives me a chance for tomorrow, he said.
O’Hair, coming off a torn oblique in February 2019 and required surgery and kept him out of golf for a year, was hanging around with a clever knock-down wedge from 95 yards that stopped inches away for birdie on the 12th. But he drove into a stand of palm trees that led to bogey on the 13th, and he dropped another shot on the 626-yard 14th.
Anirban Lahiri of India also had a 64 and was in a large group at 11-under 205 that included Justin Suh, the former Southern Cal star who needs a top 10 to get into the next PGA Tour event.