FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Patrick Cantlay opened a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Hotel Fitness Championship, a week after the former UCLA star missed a chance to wrap up a PGA Tour card.
Fighting a back injury, the 21-year-old Cantlay had two eagles, six birdies and a double bogey in the third round to reach 19-under 197 at Sycamore Hills in the first of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals.
"Less is more and I really try to be aware of not stretching my back out too much," said Cantlay, the winner of the tour's Colombia Championship in March. "Playing is actually the easy part because it's just hit a shot and walk."
Cantlay missed the cut last week in the Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb., to drop from 25th to 29th on the Web.com Tour money list. The top 25 after that event secured PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season, while Nos. 26-75 are fighting with Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedExCup standings for 25 additional cards in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals series.
Cantlay eagled the par-5 second and followed with a birdie on No. 3. After the double bogey on the par-4 sixth, ne birdied Nos. 9-10, eagled the par-5 12th and added birdies on Nos. 15-17.
"I'm pretty good at letting stuff roll off my back," Cantlay said about the double bogey. "The birdies on 9 and 10 were big, and the eagle on 12 got me in the zone and I just tried to ride the wave all the way in."
Kevin Kisner was second after a 63.
"I'm just going to have to stay aggressive," Kisner said. "Just try and make as many birdies as I can tomorrow."
Web.com Tour money champion Michael Putnam was tied for third at 14 under with 2008 Masters winner Trevor Immelman, Arron Oberholser, Bobby Gates, Scott Gardiner and Bud Cauley. Putnam and Immelman shot 69, Oberholser and Cauley had 68s, Gates shot 64, and Gardiner had a 66.