By TIM PRICE (Associated Press)
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Patrick Rodgers shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Valero Texas Open, with his first PGA Tour title and Masters spot at stake.
Making his 235th tour start, the 30-year-old Rodgers had a 12-under 204 total at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
Canadian Corey Conners, the 2019 Texas Open winner, was second after a 69.
Matt Kuchar was a shot back on the 18th tee, but he made a double bogey for a 69 to end up third at 9 under.
“I think we all know what’s at stake out here with a win,” Rodgers said. “There’s a lot of guys chasing, and great players out here. There’s no better place to be than to have an advantage, but it’s going to take a great round in order to get it done.”
Chris Kirk (69) and Sam Stevens (68) were 8 under.
Kuchar was one of three notable names to crawl up the leaderboard Saturday. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, at age 51, parred his first 10 holes, then shot a back-nine 32 for a 68. He was 7 under.
Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was 6 under after a 68.
Rodgers led by three coming into the third round. Rodgers and Conners each birdied the drivable 331-yard 17th hole when they chipped close with their second shots.
That left Rodgers up by two, but he pushed his tee shot at 18 behind a tree and made bogey from a greenside bunker. Conners could have tied, but missed an 8-foot birdie putt.
“I like a lot of the things I did today,” said Conners, who has not won since his Texas Open trophy from four years ago. “I made some birdies on the back nine today and have some good momentum from that.”
Rodgers has a 54-hole lead for the fourth time on the tour. He has three second-place finishes.
Kuchar was one shot back after driving the par-4 17th green and almost holing a 37-foot eagle putt. It was a stretch of three birdies in six holes, but on the 18 tee, Kuchar pulled his drive shot into a cactus bush. He lost a stroke with an unplayable lie and finished with the double bogey on the par 5.
“I paid the price with a poor tee shot on the last,” Kuchar said. “This is tough golf course, one that it’s easy to go wayward, easy to make some big numbers.”
Along with Harrington, Byeong Hun An (68), Harry Higgs (72), Lee Hodges (69), Augusto Nunez (69) and Sam Ryder (68) were five behind Rodgers.
“It was a decent day,” Harrington said. “Maybe a low one tomorrow will get us in the hunt.”
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