Golf: Long rides red hot putter to Puntacana lead

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2020; Mamaroneck, New York, USA; Adam Long hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club - West. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Adam Long moved into position to give himself a belated birthday present on Saturday, grabbing a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

Having celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday, Long could have another reason to party on Sunday after an error-free third round eight-under 64 put him top of the leaderboard, two clear of overnight leader Hudson Swafford, who ground out a three-under 69.

Long, riding the momentum of a solid 13th place finish at last week’s U.S. Open, had his putter firing on all cylinders, putting nine of his last 10 holes to get to 17-under for the tournament.

“It was nice when those days are like that, where you’re just kind of feeling the putter and you’re just making putts,” said Long. “I wasn’t thinking about a whole lot of things, I was just trying to make everything.

“There’s a lot of putts that were just kind of right edge, left edge, I didn’t have to worry about the break all that much, just worrying about the pace.”

Swafford, who finished the opening two rounds at the top of the leaderboard, mixed an eagle, two birdies and a bogey on his front nine but stalled after the turn, reeling off nine consecutive pars.

Sitting three off the pace is Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, who closed with three birdies over his final four holes to move into contention behind a five-under 67.

China’s Zhang Xinjun lurks four back after returning a four-under 68.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Hugh Lawson