Ricky Barnes, who has never won in 221 starts on the PGA Tour, will have another chance on Sunday.
Barnes, from Stockton, who was expected to be a big star after he won the 2002 U.S. Amateur, shot 5-under-par 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Brendan Steele into the final round of the Valero Texas on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
“This is why you play the game, right, coming in Sundays and have a chance to win,” said Barnes, whose biggest moment as a pro came when he finished second to Lucas Glover in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. “It’s been a while since I’ve been with a 54-hole lead by myself. I’ve been working hard and fighting every bit of the way and things are starting to pay off. This is kind of the results so far for all the hard work.
“I’d be lying if I would say it was a successful career being out here 14 years without a win. Winning is why we come out every week to compete. We just don’t come out here to compete and finish. Hopefully, tomorrow will erase that.”
Barnes, whose tie for ninth in the RBC Heritage last week was his first top-10 finish of the season, had a three-stroke lead until he hit a wild drive and made bogey on the final hole, where Steele came along behind him and recorded his second birdie of the day.
Steele, from Idyllwild and UC Riverside, who led after each of the first two rounds, almost holed his approach from 80 yards on No. 18, where he tapped in from two feet to complete a 72.
“I didn’t get off to a very good start, but I was able to hit enough good shots and enough good recovery shots to not make many mistakes,” said Steele, whose only PGA Tour victory came in this tournament five years ago. “Today’s round really tested my patience.
“I’ve been really working hard on trying to be more into every shot. I need to look at each individual shot, rather than the whole day and having to press and kind of get back into the tournament. So I was really happy with how I did it today.”
Luke Donald of England posted a 68 and was two strokes back in a tie for third with Charley Hoffman of Poway and UNLV, who had a 70.
Patrick Reed is three shots in behind in solo fifth after 70, while Billy Horschel (67), Nick Taylor (66) of Canada, Chad Collins (67), Padraig Harrington (68) of Ireland, Martin Piller (71) and Jon Curran (71) are another stroke back in a tie for sixth.
Billy Horschel (67), Padraig Harrington (68) of Ireland, Chad Collins (67), Jon Curran (71), Martin Piller (71) and Nick Taylor (66) were four strokes back in a tie for sixth.
There were 16 players within five strokes of the lead, including Aaron Baddeley of Australia, whose 66 matched Taylor for the best score of the day and left him in a tie for 12th.