SEASIDE, Calif. -- Brad Lardon of College Station, Texas, making his third appearance in a senior event, fired a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 at Bayonet Black Horse to grab the lead Saturday in the 27th Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.
Lardon, who turned 50 on April 29, opened the third round four strokes behind co-leaders James Mason of Dillard, Georgia, and Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California. He steadily took control by collecting six birdies, including a chip-in at the par-3 sixth hole. He capped his round by a birdie run from the 10th through 12th holes.
SENIOR PGA PNC: Third round scores | Saturday's photos
Lardon tied the low 18-hole performance of the week and his 54-hole total of 9-under-par 207 is a stroke ahead of John Dal Corobbo of Speedway, Indiana; Jim Carter of Scottsdale, Arizona (69); and Mason, who posted a 71.
“I thought I had a good round in me,” said Lardon, the PGA General Manager at Texas A&M Golf Course in College Station. “I didn’t’ play well back in 2012 when I came here (for the PGA Professional Championship). Today, I played well for the first 12 today, and made some nice saves coming in. The course fits my eye.”
To compete as a senior, said Lardon, opens up special opportunities.
“When you’re a rookie on the Tour, in my younger days at age 25, you feel like you’re the guy with all the experience,” he said. “When you’re a rookie out here, you feel like this is my time. I’m the youngest in the group and have a good window right now to take advantage of it.”
Mason, who reached 10-under-par through the 14th hole for a short-lived one-stroke lead, suffered a double bogey at 16 to end his momentum.
“Started playing well and then up jumped 16,” said Mason. “I did not hit a good chip shot, twice. I hit two chip shots that were not worth a damn. I am just going to try to do the same thing I’ve been doing. The key to this golf course is to put it in the fairway. If you can knock it in the fairway, you have a chance. And if you don’t, you have no chance. We will see if I can drive it a little better tomorrow.”
Starkjohann, who struggled to a 72, dropped into a share of fifth place at 209 along with Tim Parun of San Diego, California (70) and Carl Cooper of Humble, Texas (70).
George Forster of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, recorded the second hole-in-one of the week at Bayonet, using a 7-iron to ace the 174-yard 17th hole. It was the sixth hole-in-one of his career, and left him five strokes from the lead.
Sunday’s final round of the $285,000 Championship will be conducted on the Bayonet Course. The low 35 scorers will earn a berth in the 77th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 26-29, 2016, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.