Hayden Buckley had two eagles in a six-under 64 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead after three rounds of the Sony Open, where he is chasing his first US PGA Tour title.
The 26-year-old American holed out from the fairway for an eagle at 10, then broke free at the top of the leaderboard with another eagle at the par-five 18, where his approach from the fairway settled within two feet of the pin.
He was two strokes behind overnight leader Chris Kirk, David Lipsky and Ben Taylor.
England’s Taylor shot a five-under 65 to join the pack at 13-under 197 while Lipsky shot a second straight 66 and Kirk posted a 68.
Andrew Putnam moved up the leaderboard with an eight-under 62 that had 10 birdies, and was joined at 198 by South Korean Kim Si-woo, who shot a 64.
Buckley, who finished tied for fifth in the Zozo championship in October, said his round was “a testament to being patient.”
“I missed a three-foot or four-foot birdie early on and just went with it,” he said, adding that he didn’t feel as in control as he did on Friday.
“I hit a lot of greens, obviously, but today I hit them in some tougher places – a lot of very high shots, with a lot more breaking and a little bit faster putts,” he said. I feel like I just played smart.”
On a day when a dozen players held at least a share of the lead at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, Buckley’s eagles made the difference.
The first came after he “ripped” his tee shot in the 10th, then hit his second 50-degree wedge shot “skinny by a hair.”
Buckley admitted that he thought he might miss the green, but instead hit the surface of the green and rolled in.
At 18 he said “I was just trying to play up front.
“Luckily I had a great number and hit a close five iron.”
Buckley will play in the final round final bracket for the first time at a US PGA Tour event.
Taylor and Lipsky are also chasing their first American tour wins, though Lipsky’s three international titles include an Asian tour win in 2012 and European tour wins in 2014 and 2018.
Taylor rallied from an opening bogey with six birdies, rolling in a six-footer at 18.
“Solid round,” he said. “I had a bit of a hiccup in the first with an early bogey…but today we had our shoulders level.”
Lipsky opened with back-to-back bogeys, but had seven birdies the rest of the way. After a bogey on the 17th, he birdied an 11-footer on the last.
Kirk stayed on the hunt despite a nightmarish start. His overnight advantage instantly evaporated when he went out of bounds off the first tee en route to a double bogey.
He responded with a birdie from the sideline in the second and added birdies in the sixth and ninth before another setback in the 13th, where he was in a fairway bunker and a greens bunker.
Kirk holed out for birdie from a greenside bunker at 14 and birdied at 16, but was unable to capitalize on the final par-five hole.