Scotland’s Russell Knox fired a 9-under 63 Saturday and took a one-shot lead after 54 holes at the Nationwide Tour’s Chiquita Classic in suburban Cincinnati. Knox stands at 19-under 197 at TPC River’s Bend, one better than Texan B.J. Staten (63) and California rookie Aaron Goldberg (65).
Florida’s Matt Every (67) holds down fourth place, two shots back of the leader. Second-round leader Josh Broadaway (70) is fifth, three behind.
Knox moved to the top with a nearly flawless performance. The converted Floridian missed only one fairway and one green as he flew past the field and took the lead for the first time in his brief career.
Knox began the third round four shots back and tied for seventh and was just hoping to stay within shouting distance.
“I wanted to be within four or five of the lead,” he admitted. “I just got off to a great start. This course is perfect for me.”
Statistics bear him out. Knox, who played college golf at Jacksonville University, is tied for first in fairways hit, tied for third in putting and sixth in greens in regulation despite changing nearly every club in his bag this week.
“I don’t know what it is but every time I change equipment I seem to play better,” he said. “This was one of the best putting rounds I’ve had in a while. I felt like every time I hit the green I could make the putt.
His best of the day came mid-round when he rolled in a 30-footer for birdie at No. 9 and the curled in another of similar distance at No. 10. He closed his day with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 18th to take sole possession of the lead.
Knox, who began the year with no status on Tour, was a Monday qualifier at the Fresh Express Classic in California back in April and finished second, one shot back of Daniel Chopra. He was in position for a chance at victory there but had to settle for runner-up when heavy fog rolled into the San Francisco Bay area and forced the cancellation of the final round. When play was called late in the day, Knox was on the eighth green and tied for the lead with Chopra, who was staring at a bogey putt.
“I would have liked to have played that back nine, just to see what it feels like,” he said. “At least there isn’t any fog in our forecast tomorrow!”
Sunday’s weather should be more of the same -- hot with 100 percent chance of birdies. Saturday’s third-round scoring average for the par-72 layout was an easy 69.059 as 60 of the 68 players broke par and nobody posted a score higher than 74.
--Corey Nagy registered the first hole-in-one in the tournament’s two-year history, acing the 146-yard seventh hole using a pitching wedge. Nagy also eagled the par-5 18th..
--Roberto Castro moved into contention with an 8-under 64, matching his career-best effort in relation to par. Castro posted 8-under 63s in the second round of the 2010 Fresh Express Classic and in the second round of the 2010 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. He is is at 14 under par and tied for seventh.
--Matt Every had two eagles in a four-hole stretch. He eagled the par-5 eighth and par-5 11th holes.
--First-round leader Andrew Buckle bounced back with a solid round. His rollercoaster scores this week are 63-75-66. Buckle is back to 12 under for the week and is now tied for 14th.
--Second-round leader Josh Broadaway said on Friday that “par won’t get you anywhere out here this week” and and Swedish native David Lingmerth proved that on Saturday. Lingmerth started the day tied for fourth and just three shots off Broadaway’s pace, but shot a 1-under 71 and is now seven strokes back and tied for 14th.