(Reuters) - Former world number one Luke Donald, back in form after revamping his swing, closed strongly to earn a two-stroke lead after the third round at the $5.8 million RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Saturday.
Donald, who has a dazzling record of consistency at the post-Masters event, birdied the par-three 17th and had a tap-in par at the last to card an impressive five-under-par 66.
“I felt really comfortably out there today. I just felt I was going to play well and obviously I did,” the quiet Englishman told Golf Channel after posting an eight-under 205 total.
American John Huh (68) bogeyed the last but still ended the day alone in second place on six-under.
Americans Jim Furyk, Nicholas Thompson and Ben Martin and South African Charl Schwartzel are three strokes behind, while Matt Kuchar is in contention for the fourth successive week among a five-strong group on four under and ready to pounce if Donald stumbles on Sunday.
Thompson, whose 19-year-old sister Lexi won the first LPGA major of the year two weeks ago, led for most of the back nine, but finished poorly with two bogeys in the final three holes.
Donald, 36, has done everything except win at Harbour Town, finishing second or third four times in the past five years on a course where precision is more important than power.
He was the top-ranked player in the world less than two years ago, but has slipped to 29th while changing his swing in an effort to gain more power and control.
The changes finally seem to be gelling, as he showed when he nearly holed a brilliant 210-yard approach shot into the teeth of a howling wind at the par-four 18th.
“I have a little more control in the wind and you saw that on the last couple of shots,” Donald continued.
With a stiff northerly wind forecast for the final round on Sunday, Donald knows he will need another solid performance to secure his sixth PGA Tour victory.
”It’s a course I feel very comfortable on,“ he said. ”I obviously played extremely well today and hopefully more of the same tomorrow.
“We’re in for a very windy day so I’ll need to control the ball even better.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry/Greg Stutchbury