(Reuters) - John Rollins moved a step closer to his first PGA Tour victory in five years by seizing a two-shot lead after the third round of the $4 million Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday.
The 39-year-old American, who is playing out of the past champion category after failing to record a top-10 finish on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, fired a four-under-par 68 at the Country Club of Jackson.
Rollins, who has not won on the U.S. circuit since the 2009 Reno-Tahoe Open, made timely birdies at the 14th and 16th to keep his closest challengers at bay before ending his round with a 14-under total of 202.
William McGirt sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-four last for a 66 to secure second place at 12 under, one stroke better than fellow Americans Lucas Glover (67) and Jason Bohn (66).
Rollins, who scrambled a par on the final hole after his drive ended up in the right rough, was delighted to be ideally placed after finishing last season 164th in the FedExCup standings.
“Obviously last year was a very disappointing year for me, but I‘m just enjoying where I‘m at right now,” the three-times PGA Tour winner told Golf Channel.
”My game feels pretty good, I‘m having fun with it and we’re just going to try that one more day and see where it stacks up.
“It’s fun when putts are going in, you’re making birdies and you’re giving yourself opportunities.”
On a glorious day of unbroken sunshine, Rollins made a fast start with birdies at the first and third to move two strokes clear.
His co-leader overnight, PGA Tour veteran David Toms, handed him a three-shot cushion with a bogey at the par-three fourth. Toms also bogeyed the fifth and sixth to slide further back.
Though Rollins bogeyed the sixth, he rebounded by sinking a 13-footer to birdie the eighth and reach the turn in two-under 34.
As McGirt, Bohn and Glover all closed in with late birdies, Rollins gave himself welcome breathing space with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 14th to forge two strokes in front.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry