March 11 (Reuters) - Canadian Adam Hadwin has already broken 60 on the PGA Tour, and now he stands on the verge of his first victory after taking a four-stroke third-round lead at the Valspar Championship in Florida on Saturday.
Hadwin sank two monster putts on the back nine to vault clear of the field with a bogey-free four-under-par 67 on the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course at Palm Harbor.
He is at 14-under 199 with one round left, with American Patrick Cantlay (66) closest on 10-under, and Jim Herman (71) next on nine-under.
Hadwin became the eighth player to shoot 59 on tour when he posted the magic number at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, en route to finishing second at the event.
He is the only member of the tour’s elite 59 club without a tour victory.
But the 29-year-old has been making steady if not spectacular progress in his 77 starts on tour, and his long game has finally caught up with his putting.
“That was huge. To end on that, a ton of momentum going into tomorrow,” the native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan told NBC television after using his cross-handed putting stroke to sink a six-footer to save par at the last.
His putter was certainly on fire earlier as he sank a 35-footer at the 12th hole and then topped that with a 55-footer three holes later.
”I just want a chance to win,“ he said. ”It’s nice to have a little bit of a cushion. The putter’s rolling pretty good right now.
“It’s so great my ball-striking has finally come around. A couple of years I’ve been battling it a little bit. The putter has really kept me in tournaments. With this ball-striking coming around, the sky’s the limit. I‘m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Second-placed Cantlay, playing on a medical extension, jumped into contention with the day’s lowest round.
The 24-year-old has battled back issues throughout his young career, and also experienced a tragedy last February when his caddie Chris Roth was struck and killed by a car as the pair were crossing a road in California.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina