Golf: Howell hangs on to lead at PGA Tour's RSM Classic by a shot over Gore and Champ

Charles Howell playing a shot from the ninth tee during the RSM Classic on Nov 17, 2018.
Charles Howell playing a shot from the ninth tee during the RSM Classic on Nov 17, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Charles Howell kept his bid to end an 11-year PGA Tour title drought on track on Saturday (Nov 17), firing a two-under 68 for a one-stroke third-round lead in the RSM Classic.

The 39-year-old American started the day with a three-shot cushion, and pushed the lead to five with two early birdies.

But two back-nine bogeys on the par-70 Seaside course in Sea Island, Georgia left him with little breathing room.

His 16-under total of 196 put him one clear of veteran Jason Gore and rising rookie Cameron Champ, who both carded four-under 66s.

Webb Simpson carded a 63 to share fourth along with Ryan Blaum, who signed for a 65.

Howell is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, but his most recent trip to the winner's circle came at Riviera in 2007.

Since then he has notched 53 top-10s and six second-place finishes.

It has been even longer since 44-year-old Gore claimed his lone PGA title, in 2005.

Since then he has seen his career disrupted by back trouble, but he is making the most this week of a sponsor's exemption and played the back nine on Saturday in five-under with three birdies and an eagle at the par-five 15th.

Champ, the big-hitting 23-year-old who won his first title at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month, seized his share of second place with a birdie at No. 18, where he stuck his second shot less than three feet from the pin.

His seven birdies on the day included four in a row from the seventh through the 10th, and a birdie from a greenside bunker at No. 15.