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Sam Burns and Keegan Bradley share the lead, but can either close the deal on Sunday?

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Sam Burns threatened to run away with the Valspar Championship on Saturday, but two late bogeys in the Snake Pit left him, the place he began – tied for the 54-hole lead with Keegan Bradley after they each shot 2-under par 69s at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course.

But what seemed to be at most a two-man race to the title has firm after Max Homa, who caught Burns from behind in Los Angeles in February, buried a 33-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the final to shoot his second 66 of the week and path by one.

“I just wanted to get as close as I could to the lead – they were playing so well – so getting that putt to go in at 18 and get one closer felt good,” mentioned Homa, who busted out a fist pump in celebration, “and felt like I could let a little bit out and enjoy the moment.”

At the begin of the day, Burns, who got here dwelling in 30 on Friday, picked up the place he left off with a 4-under begin by means of his first 5 holes, together with an eagle at the par-5 first gap. Burns blasted a hybrid from 233 yards to three ft.

“That shot in there on (No.) 1 was kind of a bonus,” Burns mentioned.

That gave him the solo lead and he added to it with a 35-foot birdie putt at 3 and an up-and-down from the sand at No. 5, changing from 12 ft for birdie. He was 16 beneath for the event and led Bradley by two pictures and Homa and the remainder of the area have been deep in his rearview mirror. Burns, 24, seemingly may do no flawed, but that turned out to be his ultimate circle on the scorecard. He made 10 pars in a row earlier than failing to rise up and down from left of the sixteenth inexperienced and going bunker to bunker at 18 and needing to can a 9-foot putt to salvage bogey and end at 14-under 199.

Burns, who has 4 top-10 finishes this season, had an opportunity to win his first PGA Tour title at the Genesis Invitational in February, constructing a three-stroke lead with 9 holes to go but made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch and settled for a third-place end. Homa swooped in and claimed the title in Tinseltown in a playoff over Tony Finau. Asked what he discovered from that setback, Burns mentioned, “I think for me it’s just taking a little more time in those moments and really talk through the shot and really have a clear plan of what I’m trying to do.”

Sam Burns watches his tee shot on the fifteenth gap throughout the third spherical of the Valspar Championship golf event. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Bradley continued to stay to his plan and performed one other positive spherical. In reality, he went as far as to say that it may’ve been his finest spherical of the event, which included 64 on Thursday.

“I just didn’t hole the putts that I’ve been making the first two rounds,” he mentioned.

Bradley stored inside shouting vary of Burns with birdies at the par 5s on the entrance, but fell three behind the lead with a bogey at 13. That’s when he delivered his shot of the day, pitching in from 35 ft from the tough for eagle. Bradley ended his spherical with a bogey, but he’s in place to finish a nearly-three-year drought since his final win at the 2018 BMW Championship.

“I know I can do it, I know I’ve been up here and won some big tournaments in my career and I feel like if I go out tomorrow and stick to my process, I can have a chance coming down the end,” Bradley mentioned.

Homa was in good spirits after his birdie putt at 18. He was as many as seven strokes again after a bogey at the third gap.

“I felt like that was the biggest part of today was playing really patient, not worrying too much about what everybody was doing, just trying to shoot the lowest score we could and I feel like it’s working,” Homa mentioned.

Did it ever at the sixth gap. After a birdie at 5 to proper the ship, he holed his strategy from 137 yards with a 52-degree wedge for eagle. Still, it couldn’t examine to that ending birdie and the fist pumps that adopted.

“Six was cool but 18 was loud,” Homa mentioned of the response from the crowd. “That was fun.”

Ted Potter Jr. shot the low spherical of the day, an 8-under 63, to steer a quartet of golfers at 10-under 201. Potter took simply 20 putts, gaining almost six strokes on the area together with his shortstick and now leads in Strokes Gained: Putting for the event.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson struggled to 3-over 74 and dropped to a tie for sixtieth whereas No. 2 Justin Thomas shot 67 regardless of one other poor placing efficiency and trails by eight strokes.

“If I’m putting well this week I’m winning this tournament without question,” he mentioned.

He’ll should putt out of his thoughts on Sunday to provide Bradley and Burns, who tied the 54-hole event scoring file, a scare. But each have did not close the two occasions that they held the 54-hole lead or co-lead on the PGA Tour, whereas Homa is lurking one again and mentioned he’s starting to really feel relaxed being in rivalry.

“It’s funny, it’s 10 or so years ago but I used to do this a decent amount in college and when I first turned pro I was comfortable in these positions,” he mentioned. “So, I had a kind of a dry spell for awhile, but when I get back here now and I’ve kind of been in this position a few more times more recently, I feel like kind of like the old me’s back a little bit, mentally.”


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