Wagner takes Mayakoba lead

Johnson Wagner, in search of his second PGA Tour victory, has taken a one-stroke lead at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Johnson Wagner, in search of his second PGA Tour victory, has taken a one-stroke lead at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Wagner, winner of the 2008 Houston Open, shot a six-under 65 on Saturday for a 13-under total of 200 to lead by one over overnight leader Chris Stroud.

“It looks like there’s a lot of people on the leaderboard within a few shots, so you can’t be looking at the leaderboard thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got to stay ahead of these people,'” Wagner said. “I have to go out and make birdies and try to play the same kind of rounds that I’ve played the last two days.”

After bogeying the par-five fifth, Wagner bounced back with an eagle on the eighth and another birdie on the ninth hole of the par-71 El Camaleon course designed by Greg Norman. Two more birdies followed on 11th and 16th holes.

“We had a rain delay, which helped me quite a bit to calm down and slow down a bit,” Wagner said. “And then I started playing great, chipped in for eagle on eight, hit it close on nine for birdie and just seemed like I had good birdie putt after good birdie putt on the back nine. They all didn’t go in, but a lot of them did.”

Halfway-leader Stroud could only follow up his second-round 63 with a 70, which included an eagle and two bogeys.

“Today was a struggle off the tee, especially the front nine, so I’m going to go to the range and try to straighten that out a little bit,” Stroud said. “But the same thing, same swing thoughts, same goal tomorrow. Just give myself as many chances as possible. I really felt good over the putter today even though I didn’t make many.”

Three players – Australian Jarrod Lyle (67) and Americans Bobby Gates (64) and Spencer Levin (67) – are a further shot behind Stroud. A group of five players, which includes Cameron Beckman (65) and South Korean Sung-hoon Kang (69), are three shots off the pace.

The rain softened the greens somewhat on Saturday, but the speed remained the same.

“You couldn’t really tell any difference in the speed,” Gates said. “They were perfect. They were the same all day and they’ve been the same all week. I think tomorrow I’m expecting them to be about the same. They’re just perfect.”

Wagner also praised the golf course, and said the conditions were just as great as he’d been told.

“All my friends that have come down here told me how incredible the golf course is, and when I got down here I was not disappointed,” he said. “It is phenomenal.”