Hughes overcomes triple-bogey to lead by one in Georgia

Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:01pm EST
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(Reuters) - Canadian rookie Mackenzie Hughes overcame a back nine triple-bogey with a trio of birdies for a 68 on Saturday that gave him a one-stroke lead heading to the final round of the RSM Classic in St Simons Island, Georgia.

Hughes recovered with birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes to reach 16-under at the par-70 Seaside Course and push past fellow rookie Pan Cheng-Tsung of Taiwan (67) and veterans Camilo Villegas (64) and Billy Horschel (65).

The 25-year-old Canadian, who has led since his opening round 61, was three ahead of the field when he floundered in a fairway bunker on the par-four 11th.

Hughes, facing a nasty lie, failed to get out of the sand and came out weakly with his next shot. His approach left him some 60 feet from the cup and he three-putted for seven.

"I was like, `This hole is never going to end,'" the 25-year-old told reporters. "It finally did, and it worked out all right."

Pan temporarily assumed the lead with a pair of birdies as Hughes triple-bogeyed, but dropped a shot with a bogey at 13 after a poor tee shot.

Villegas made a rousing finish on a breezy day with four birdies in a row for 64, finding himself in a four-way tie for the lead before Hughes' birdie at 16.

"It was playing a little tougher out there with the wind, but the putter got hot," said the Colombian, who overcame a double bogey at the third. "I made pretty much everything."

Horschel, who like Villegas attended the University of Florida, shot a bogey-free 65 and celebrated his round and a football win by the Gators with a leap of joy on the 18th green.   Continued...