Saunders surges to lead

Steve Saunders birdied the last four holes on the  TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta and carded a 5-under-par 67 to take a two-stroke lead over Jimmy Gunn of Scotland and Scot Pinckney after three rounds of the Tour Qualifying Tournament.

Saunders, an All-American at New Mexico who claimed three victories for the Lobos, played the PGA Tour Canada off and on the last few seasons, with his best finish a tie for 22nd in the 2010 Corona Mazatlan Mexican PGA Championship.

Gunn, who left Scotland a few years ago and has been trying to make his way on the min-tours, posted a 64, while Pinckney, out of Arizona State, posted his second straight 67.

Amateur Michael Kim, the 2013 NCAA Player of the Year from Cal and Del Mar, shot 66 and was in a tie for fourth with Max Homa, his former Cal teammate from Valencia and the 2013 NCAA individual champion, who finished at 67.

Also in the tie for seventh, four shots back, was Nathan Tyler, the 2007 Arizona Amateur champion from the University of Arizona, who wound up with a 71 after starting 66-66.

Epperson, a 31-year-old from Savannah, Ga., who held a four-stroke lead after two rounds, struggled to a 76 and was tied for seventh.

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.

Kim has said he will wait to see where he finishes before deciding whether to turn pro or return to Cal to finish his junior season.

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