Duo share lead in Vegas

Nick Watney shares the lead with Kevin Na after round three of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Nick Watney shares the lead with Kevin Na after round three of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Watney shot a near-flawless seven-under-par 64 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas to move to 17 under par for the tournament, tied with fellow American Kevin Na, who went round in 66.

Watney, a two-time winner already this season, birdied his last three holes and five of his last six to reach the top of the leaderboard.

It was a great round of golf, but it could have been even more impressive but for missed birdie opportunities on the ninth and 15th holes.

Though he wasn’t too pleased by the near misses, the 32-year-old was happy to find himself in such a strong position after enduring a tough four weeks in the FedEx Cup playoffs recently.

“Those were definitely disappointing to walk off with pars,” he said.

“But once it’s over, that’s what I’ve kind of been trying to do this week: stay a little more even keel whereas during the play-offs I would probably get a little more frustrated, and it didn’t help anything.”

This is the American’s seventh event in nine weeks, including the four FedEx Cup events. He entered the playoff first in the standings, but had to eventually settle for ninth place.

He was pleased with his three-birdie finish on Saturday.

“I didn’t make birdie (on 15), but I was able to birdie the next three,” he said.

“So if I would have gotten a little frustrated, that might not have been the case … It was nice to finish well, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

For Watney, a win on Sunday would be the third of the season and the fifth of his career.

“Most of the time that I’ve been up on the leaderboard I’ve been playing really well all facets of the game,” he added.

“This week, I haven’t really holed very many putts. I’m hoping that (I will make some) tomorrow and maybe I can shoot a real low.

“And a third win, you know, that would be – it would be really, really nice, but it’s a long way off, so I’m not trying to think about that too much.”

Na, meanwhile, made five birdies and a bogey on the front nine, and added another birdie on the par-five 16th.

“I got off to a really good start on the front nine, made five birdies,” he said.

“I felt like I could go real low with a bunch of birdie holes on the back. Unfortunately, I slowed down a bit and missed a few short ones. But to finish 5-under for the day, I was pretty pleased.”

Robert Garrigus and Kris Blanks are both only a shot off the lead, after rounds of 63 and 66 respectively, while Tommy Gainey (64), Paul Goydos (66) and Tim Herron (67) lie on 15 under, two shots back.

Players on 14 under, three back, include Roland Thatcher, Spencer Levin, Carl Pettersson and Jhonattan Vegas.