(Reuters) - South Korean Noh Seung-yul produced another flawless performance to earn a two-stroke lead over American Keegan Bradley after the third round at the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Saturday.
“Pretty good ball striking and a lot of good shots with the wedges,” Noh told reporters after shooting a seven-under-par 65 in ideal scoring conditions at the TPC Louisiana.
“(I had a) lot of good birdie chances. I still missed (a few) but made a lot of good putts.”
The baby-faced 22-year-old from Gangwon-do has not had a bogey all week, the first player to negotiate the first 54 holes without a blemish on his card since the tournament moved to its current venue in 2007.
Noh is at 18-under 198, with Bradley (65) alone in second place on 16-under. Robert Streb (68) is another stroke back in third place, while halfway leader Ben Martin is tied for fourth on 14-under after a disappointing 73.
Only seven players scored worse than Martin, whose opening 62 seemed like a distant memory as he gathered just one birdie.
Noh, in his third season on the PGA Tour, turned pro in 2007 and won twice in Asia before directing his attention to the U.S. circuit.
Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month, and has high hopes of going one better on Sunday.
He played the first two rounds under the weather with what he suspects was a touch of food poisoning, but felt much better on Saturday and it showed in his score.
“I feel very in control of my golf ball, which is a good sign (and) the last couple of weeks, other than Augusta, the putts have been going in,” he said, referring to the Masters, where he missed the cut.
Paul Casey moved within five strokes of the lead with the best round of the day, a 64 that included six birdies in a seven-hole stretch.
The Englishman did not even have a practice round, because he arrived late after spending the first part of the week working on his U.S. permanent residency status.
“I had to visit LA and go do some stuff for the green card (and) I was still in LA Wednesday morning,” said the former world number three, who is working his way back from a series of injuries.
“I didn’t even walk the golf course. I just had to go out there and wing it and relax and that’s what I’ve done all week and it’s got me to this point.”
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Editing by Gene Cherry