Stallings storms five ahead at Challenge

Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:16pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Scott Stallings capitalized on a pair of eagles to surge five strokes clear of the field with a sizzling display of "conservatively aggressive" golf in the third round of the Humana Challenge on Saturday.

One shot off the pace overnight, the 27-year-old American fired a nine-under-par 63 on the Nicklaus Private course at PGA West, one of three venues hosting the tournament renowned for its low scoring in the California desert.

Bidding for a third victory on the PGA Tour, Stallings eagled the par-five 13th and eighth after starting out at the 10th to take command with a 22-under total of 194 in the pro-am celebrity event.

"I feel good," Stallings told reporters after scrambling well in a round that also included five birdies. "I played well. I stayed aggressive. I've been smart when I got out of position.

"I guess you can say it's conservatively aggressive. Like number eight today, I hit a really good drive and had eight iron," he said of his second eagle.

"But just because I had eight iron to a par-five, I fired it in the middle of the green, had a 20-footer and was happy to make it."

Former British Open champion Stewart Cink, who has struggled for consistency over the past four years, carded a 66 on the Palmer layout to share second place with fellow American Roberto Castro (69), co-leader overnight with rookie James Hahn.

Also at 17 under with Cink and Castro after another ideal day for scoring with hardly a breath of wind in the sun-drenched Coachella Valley were Americans Charles Howell III (67), John Rollins (64) and Charley Hoffman (67).   Continued...

Scott Stallings of the U.S. tees off on the 14th tee during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio June 2, 2012. REUTERS/John Sommers II