Rookie Ben Griffin certainly is not playing like a guy who has never won on the PGA Tour.
The 27-year-old Griffin followed his 63 with another bogey-free round of six-under-par 66 and will take a three-stroke lead over Carl Yuan of China, another rookie, into the final round of the 56th edition of what is now the Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Miss.
“I’ve played so well the last two days and I just have to keep it up for one more to win,” said Griffin, whose only pro victory came in the 2018 Staal Foundation Championship on the PGA Tour Canada. “I played nearly flawless golf on the front nine today, but made a few mistakes on the back, but was able to get away with them and save par because of my short game and putting.
“I’m going to eat at the same Thai restaurant I have for dinner the last three nights and do the same routine I’ve been doing and hopes to get it done tomorrow. I’m in a good spot and just rolling with it, so I’m simply going to keep doing the same things tonight and tomorrow morning before we start playing.
“I was just a solid day with three birdies on each nine and I hope to play the same way tomorrow and win on the PGA Tour.
Griffin, who was tied for the 54-hole lead in the 2023 Barracuda Championship and tied for third in his best result on the PGA Tour, birdied two of the first three holes to kick-start his 66 and posted a 54-hole score of 20-under-par 196.
Yuan, who has one victory on the Korn Ferry Tour and one more on the PGA Tour China, made three birdies on the front nine and four more coming home in his 67.
“I think I definitely hit a lot of solid shots today,” said Yuan, who played college golf at Washington and won the 2016 Pacific Northwest Amateur Championship. “I think just being very smart, knowing where to leave the shots has helped me and I think I did a pretty good job of it.
“I really trust my lag putts. I know I’m going to have some lag putts on those fast greens, and I worked quite a bit on distance control on those. I was comfortable hitting it to 20 feet, 30 feet from a tough spot and knowing that I’m going to have a chance of rolling it in. I had a couple really good putts that barely lipped out. But yeah, I was happy with the way I played.
“This means a great deal to me and to my country. Definitely there’s something I definitely carry on my shoulders, and I’m looking forward to playing great tomorrow.”
Scott Stallings, who has won three times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, holed out from 49 feet on the fairway for an eagle at No. 15 and added five birdies in a bogey-free 65, is four shots back in a tie for third with Henrik Norlander of Sweden, who shot a bogey-free 68, and Luke List, who had three birdies on the front nine in another bogey-free 68.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento, who won the 2018 Sanderson Farms for one of his three PGA Tour victories, made four birdies on the front nine in a bogey-free 65 and is five down in a tie for sixth with Zecheng Dou of China, who birdied three of the last four holes to cap a 68.
Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, the only player in the field who was part of the Ryder Cup last week, collected five birdies on the back nine in a bogey-free 66 and is six strokes behind in a tie for eighth with Adam Svensson of Canada, who made four birdies on the back side in another bogey-free 66, while Christiian Bezuidenhout of South Africa shot a bogey-free 68 and is seven down in solo 10th.
Peter Malnati, who claimed his only PGA Tour victory in the 2015 Sanderson Farms, posted a 70 and is tied for 25th.
For complete results and final-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard