Pinckney takes lead into final round

Scott Pinckney will take a two-shot lead over Zack Fisher into the final round of the Tour Qualifying Tournament after carding a 4-under-par 68 on the TPC Stadium Course on the fifth day of the event at PGA West in La Quinta.

Pinckney, a 2011 graduate of Arizona State, cooled off after recording birdies on four of the first eight holes and made his only bogey of round five on the 14th hole before adding a final birdie at No. 18.

“I played good today and handled the pressure pretty well,” said Pinckney, who captured the 2010 Trans-Mississippi Championship, one of the biggest amateur events in the United States. “Tomorrow (on the Nicklaus Tournament Course) is hugely important. Leaving here with a ‘W’ would be big, knowing you’re fully exempt and don’t have to worry about the reranks.”

Fisher, a 2011 graduate of Texas-Arlington, posted a bogey-free 64 that equaled the best score of the day, including five birdies in the first eight holes.

Jimmy Gunn of Scotland, who learned the game at legendary Royal Dornoch Golf Club, recorded a 70 and was three strokes back in a tie for third with Tony Finau of Lehl, Utah, who eagled the 16th hole en route to a 67.

Third-round leader Steve Saunders, who was an All-American at New Mexico, had a 71 and was tied for fifth with Sung Joon Park of South Korea, who came in at 66.

Max Homa of Valencia, the 2013 NCAA individual champion from Cal, shot 67 and was tied for ninth.

Amateur Michael Kim of Del Mar, Homa’s former teammate at Cal and the 2013 NCAA Player of the Year, struggled to a 74 that included three bogeys and a double-bogey 5 on the 13th hole, skidding to a tie for 17th.

Kim has said he will wait to see where he finishes in the tournament before deciding whether to turn pro or return to Cal to finish his junior season. A top-10 result might be enough, but he left himself with plenty of work to do.

The winner of the tournament receives a full exemption for the 2014 season on the Tour, while all 152 players in the event receive some playing status for next year by virtue of making it to the finals.

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