McKINNEY, Texas -- With warmer temperatures and calmer winds prevailing on Saturday, Californian James Hahn fired a 7-under-par 64 to catch halfway leader Justin Hicks at 12 under par after three rounds of the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch.
Two shots back at 10 under is University of Georgia product Justin Bolli, who posted a 67. Another shot back at 9 under is former PGA Tour member Michael Putnam from Lakewood, Wash.
On a day that began with the thermometer barely above freezing, Hahn posted the lowest round of his Web.com Tour career. The South Korean-born Hahn reeled off eight birdies and just one bogey. He has bettered his previous days’ score by three each day after opening with rounds of 70-67.
With 25 PGA Tour cards for 2013 to be awarded after play on Sunday, he is already assured of securing his card for the first time. Hahn, who turns 31 next Saturday, entered the Web.com Tour Championship 13th in earnings. A victory on Sunday would be his second of the year. In June, he captured the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C.
“It was a good day, but I’m not going to say it was a great day,” Hahn said. “I was even on the par 5s.
“I could care less about the money,” he added. “It’s all about taking home a trophy. I believe it would be contagious and it would be nice to take home some hardware and just build on it.”
This week’s purse is $1 million, with the winner taking home $180,000.
Hicks is looking for a special birthday celebration of his own on Sunday, when he turns 38. The former Michigan Wolverine has nine top-10s on the year, including one runner-up, but has yet to enter the winner’s circle. He continued his steady play of the first two days adding a 67 to rounds of 65 and 69.
Like Hahn, Hicks is assured of collecting his PGA Tour card. Unlike his fellow co-leader, Hicks will be returning to the PGA Tour, where he played in 2011. He is 11th in earnings.
“Tomorrow is my birthday,” Hicks said. “I’ve got my family out, so it’s a good week regardless.”
He looks to draw inspiration from last year’s Web.com Tour Championship winner.
“I watched my friend Ken Duke just jump everybody when he won,” Hicks said. “You know in the back of your head that if you have a good week, whether you win or not, it can really springboard you ahead of some people. If somebody catches you, so be it.”
His game plan for Sunday is simple.
“The best defense is a good offense,” he said. “I can’t say there was ever a round where I told somebody we made too many birdies.”
Both Bolli and Putnam are looking to play their way into a PGA Tour card for next year. They came to the Dallas area 30th and 44th, respectively, in earnings.
A pair of Web.com Tour rookies, Luke Guthrie and Russell Henley, are locked in a tie for fifth place with veteran Cliff Kresge at 8-under par. Guthrie and Henley are pursuing their third win of the year and a shot at the money title.
Leading money winner Casey Wittenberg fired a 67 and is tied for eighth, one shot back.