Baird has the edge in California

A seven-under 64 from Briny Baird has given him a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Open.

A seven-under 64 from Briny Baird has given him a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Open.

The American, chasing his first PGA Tour win after 12 years on Tour, lies on 13 under par for the tournament and has a two-shot edge over England’s Paul Casey and South African Ernie Els, who shot rounds of 68 and 67 respectively.

Baird is the player on Tour who has the highest amount of career earnings, $11.9 million, without actually winning, but he gave himself a great chance of finally addressing that at CordeValle Golf Club on Saturday.

Four players are in a fourway tie for fourth – Adam Hadwin (64), Charlie Wi (64), Bryce Molder (65) and Bud Cauley (68).

Jim Renner and Will Mackenzie also put in notable performances – the duo both shot course-record 62 to propel themselves 58 places up the leaderboard into a fourway tie for ninth.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, put in another solid but unspectacular 68 as he did on Friday to lie in a tie for 38th place.

Second-placed Els had looked at at one stage to be seizing the advantage, but could only play his back nine in level par.

Baird took full advantage, making seven birdies and an eagle in his round. His only error came right at the death, as his three-shot lead got reduced to two with a bogey at the last hole.

With another player who had to wait a long time for his win finally coming through last week when Kevin Na picked up his first PGA Tour win, it was suggested to Baird that he might follow suit.

“I don’t look at it like if he can do it, I can do it,” he replied.

“There’s been guys that have played out here for a while that suddenly win a golf tournament. It’s going to be – my world is not going to come to an end if I play well tomorrow and win the golf tournament.

“I think it’s more of a bucket list type thing.

“I used to say it’s not going to bother me.

“But I think looking back on it, it probably would bother me if I never did win on the PGA Tour.

“Feeling like you can win on the PGA Tour and winning on the PGA Tour are as different as black and white.”

Els, chasing his 19th PGA Tour win, was happy with his progress and being back in the hunt after being in the wilderness all year, despite his lackluster finish.

“This is what I’ve been working toward, especially after the PGA,” he said.

“I changed a lot of things and I feel that the work I’ve put in is starting to come through.”

Casey, plagued by a foot injury all year, but finally finding some form again, said: “I take a lot of confidence out of last week.

“Not just the win but I felt that the game is coming back to where I want it to be.

“I know it was the Korean Golf Tour, it wasn’t the PGA Tour but a win is a win.”