Mitchell leads after three rounds at Valspar

golf24 March 2024 04:35| © Reuters

Keith Mitchell overcame three bogeys on the front nine to fire a 5-under-par 66 and take a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Valspar Championship on Saturday in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Mitchell carded his three bogeys in four holes going out but rebounded with a 29 on the back nine, matching an Innisbrook Resort record, with four birdies and an eagle on the 18th hole. He became the first golfer in the history of the event to play the Snake Pit (Nos. 16-18) at 4-under. Mitchell holed his second shot on the par-4 18th.

"Obviously, some luck involved in that, but the good thing is I executed all the shots I wanted to. That's really all I could do," Mitchell said. "I guess I should say if I hit the shots like I hit coming down the stretch tomorrow I'll have a chance. ... Out here with the wind, small greens, small fairways, you can hit good shots and not get rewarded. But all in all, just, it's really all we can control tomorrow."

Mitchell sits at 10-under 203 for the tournament, two strokes ahead of Ireland's Seamus Power (third-round 68), Peter Malnati (68) and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes (69). Mitchell is gunning for his second win on tour, his first coming at the 2019 Cognizant Classic.

Hughes was one of five co-leaders heading into Saturday.

Power recorded four birdies against a bogey in his attempt to become the first international winner at Valspar since Paul Casey's back-to-back in 2018 and 2019.

"I haven't really seen much of a leaderboard, don't watch too much of 'em, but it is tough to get a low one out there," Power said. "No matter how well you played, it was going to be tough to get much better than 4-, 5-under, I thought. It's tough to get away from the pack, so it's going to be some guys in with a chance."

Friday's round was suspended, forcing second-round action to resume at 9 a.m. local time Saturday.

One of Friday's co-leaders, Stewart Cink, shot 76 Saturday and dropped to T55 at 1 under.

Cameron Young (68) and second-round co-leaders Chandler Phillips (70) and Brendon Todd (70) are tied for fifth at 7 under for the tournament.

Phillips is trying to become the fifth first-time winner this season. The last player to earn his first victory at Valspar was Gary Woodland in 2011.

"Just trying to play my game. Where I end up at the end of the day is where I end up," Phillips said. "I don't want to be looking at the scoreboard all day and let that predict where I'm going to be. ... But, you know, three back going into tomorrow, closest I've ever been to the lead in a PGA Tour event, so I can't complain."

Five other players are four shots off the lead at T8.