Laird goes top in title defence bid

Scotland’s Martin Laird has moved into pole position in his bid to defend his Timberlake-Shriners title in Las Vegas.

An eight-under 63 in Saturday’s third round has put Scotland’s Martin Laird into pole position in his bid to defend his title at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas

The 27-year-old from Glasgow already had six birdies to his name when he managed a specatacular eagle two at the 15th after firing a magnificent tee shot that landed just eight feet from the pin.

Added to his stunning second-round 62, that helped him to reach 19-under par and take the lead in this US PGA Tour Fall Series event on a TPC Summerlin course he clearly enjoys.

Last year 19-under was low enough for victory and secured him a cheque for over 750,000 US dollars, but before he collects the winners cheque again he still has a lot to do with American Jonathan Byrd just one shot off the pace alone in second place and Australian Cameron Percy and American Webb Simpson just two shots back.

Two more Americans, Cameron Beckman and Spencer Levin, are tied for fifth, four shots off the pace at 15 under

Looking back at his decisive eagle at 15, Laird told reporters: “I really left myself the easiest putt on the green. It was a right edge, up the hill putt. That’s the one most of us would want if we had 6 feet for eagle.”

Last year when Laird won the event it gave him his maiden PGA Tour title. He beat American George McNeill with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff, another American, Chad Campbell, having been eliminated on the second extra hole.

“It’s completely different because last year I was 134th or something on the money list and it was probably the best chance I had ever had of winning a tournament (on the PGA Tour). I’m 43rd on the money list now, so there was a lot more pressure on me last year than there is this year.

“It’s definitely a little more relaxed week than last year, knowing that I’ve had a good year so far, and I don’t have to worry about playing to keep my card.”

“It’s been a good three days and, even after only shooting 2 under the first day, I was pretty confident that I could post three low ones in a row to get back in contention.

“I maybe didn’t think I’d post 17 under the next two rounds, but I’m pleased, obviously, with where I am and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“Any time you shoot 62 you’ve got to feel pretty good after it. I was just pleased to finally make some putts because I hit it just as good on Thursday as I did on Friday, just made nothing, so it was nice to see the ball go in the hole. I’ve started to get a little more comfortable with the speed of the greens as the week has gone on and putted nicely again today.” ‘

Byrd shot a 66. Percy a career-best 62 that included eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey, and Webb Simpson a 64 after carding 10 birdies and two bogeys.

Percy, a 36-year-old Australian in his first year on the Tour, is curren