PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jake Scott of Strongsville, Ohio, opened up a four-stroke lead over Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Neb., heading into Sunday’s final round of the 36th National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship presented by COBRA PUMA GOLF.
Scott, a PGA Assistant Championship rookie, shot a third-round, 5-under-par 67 for a 201 total on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club. Vermeer posted a third-round 70 for a 205 total.
The two players have separated themselves from the field, as Scooter Buhrman of Fayetteville, N.C., is alone in third at 209.
Mike Emery of Canton, Ohio, and Richard Terga of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., are another stroke back at 210.
Scott, a PGA apprentice at Elyria (Ohio) Country Club, posted his third consecutive round in the 60s, which included six birdies. The 25-year-old is tied for the most birdies made in the Championship with 17, and has the best scrambling percentage in the field.
"I stuck to the game plan and played really smart all day," said Scott. "I made some key birdies coming down the stretch and even though I hit a few bad shots I recovered very well."
Scott, who will play the final round alongside Vermeer, will not change that game plan going into the final round, even with a four-stroke lead.
"You can't let up out here at all. You have to continue to be aggressive and continue to make birdies," said Scott. "Ryan is a great player. It will be fun to play with him tomorrow and see how it turns out at the end of the day."
Vermeer, a PGA apprentice at Oak Hills Country Club in Omaha, used five birdies to offset a bogey on the front nine and double bogey on the back nine. But Vermeer, 34, was not happy with his overall putting performance.
"I just didn't putt as well today. It's as simple as that," said Vermeer. "Tee to green I was solid and gave myself plenty of chances to make birdies. The putts just didn't drop today."
Vermeer, who shot 66 to take the first-round lead, knows he will need at least a repeat performance to beat Scott on Sunday.
"Jake is playing so well right now, I would be surprised if he didn't break par again," said Vermeer. "I can't have a mediocre round and win this Championship. I am going to have to go out and make a bunch of birdies like I did the first day to have any chance of catching him."
Emery, a PGA apprentice at Brookside Country Club in Canton, pulled off the shot of the Championship on the Wanamaker Course -- an ace on the par-3 sixth hole. The 42-year-old used a 6-iron from 180 yards for his first competitive hole-in-one.
"It was great to see the ball go in. It landed a few feet short and just trickled into the hole," said Emery. "It was a special time to get my first hole-in-one, that's for sure."
Two-time defending champion Frank Bensel of Purchase, N.Y., posted a second consecutive 73 and sits in a tie for 32nd overall.
Following play yesterday, the field was reduced to the low 70 scorers and ties, with 72 players making the cut at 6-over-par 150.
The 2012 field features the top-4 finishers from last year's Championship as well as 122 players who advanced through their PGA Section Championships.
Also at stake for the Champion is a spot in the 46th PGA Professional National Championship, June 23-26, 2013, at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort.
The winner of the 2012 Championship will collect $9,000 of the $100,000 purse.