South Africa’s Ernie Els authored the low round of the day with a 7-under 64 on Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead entering the final round of the Hoag Classic in Newport Beach, Calif.
Els had a wild round that included three bogeys, eight birdies and an eagle, which came at the par-5 15th to ignite a 4-under-par stretch over the final four holes. He sits at 12-under 130 through 36 holes, one stroke ahead of Scott McCarron (who shot 68) and Canada’s David Morland IV (70).
Ken Tanigawa (66) and Ken Duke (69) are another stroke back in fourth. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who tied for the second-lowest round of the day with a 65, is tied with Fred Couples (66) and Chris DiMarco (67) in sixth at 9 under.
Els opened on fire, ripping off three straight birdies and overcoming a bogey at No. 5 with two more birdies at Nos. 6 and 7. He encountered more trouble on the back nine with bogeys at 12 and 14, but he answered each.
Els birdied the par-3 13th, then eagled the par-5 15th, with his 12-foot putt giving him a share of the lead at 10 under. It was the second straight day Els eagled the 15th, after he rolled one in from the lower tier, around 70 feet away, on Friday.
To finish Saturday’s round, he tacked on a birdie at the par-3 17th and then sunk a 15-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th, claiming the solo lead.
McCarron was quiet through much of the day, sitting at even par through 14 holes, but he closed with birdies at 15, 17 and 18 to leap into a share for second.
Morland, the first-round leader after shooting a personal-best 61, cooled off with two birdies and one bogey. The 50-year-old made the field in an unusual qualifier that was affected by wildfire in California.
Defending champion Kirk Triplett shot 65 and is among three players tied for 12th at 7 under.
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