Golf: Kevin Chappell finishes strong to grab Texas Open third-round lead

Kevin Chappell reacts to his birdie putt on the 16th hole during the third round of the Valero Texas Open.
Kevin Chappell reacts to his birdie putt on the 16th hole during the third round of the Valero Texas Open.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Los Angeles (AFP) - American Kevin Chappell, seeking his first PGA title, birdied three of the last five holes for a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the Texas Open.

Chappell fired a one-under par 71 in windy conditions to stand on eight-under 208 after 54 holes at San Antonio, one stroke ahead of compatriot John Huh and South African Branden Grace.

"I was able to get back into position, find a rhythm, and hopefully that will carry over into tomorrow and we'll have some fun," Chappell said.

American Ryan Palmer fired a 68, the day's lowest round, to jump from a share of 36th to level fourth in a pack of seven on 210 that included Scotland's Martin Laird, Australian Cameron Smith and Sweden's Carl Pettersson.

Chappell, a six-time PGA runner-up who was seventh at the Masters two weeks ago, put approaches at the par-5 14th and par-4 17th inches from the cup to set up birdies, and sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th to seize the lead.

That followed a roller-coaster front nine for Chappell, who started bogey-birdie, and did the same on the fourth and fifth holes ahead of a double bogey at the par-4 sixth, and then closed the front side birdie-bogey.

"I just needed to find a rhythm," Chappell said. "Obviously the golf course hit me in the chin real hard early.

"To only make the turn 2-over after some of the places I hit it, I was confident if I could get to 14 tee at 2-over or better, that I think I could post a score." Chappell did thanks to the late birdie binge and par putts of 10 feet at the 15th and six feet at 18 that left him screaming with joy.

"To birdie 14, 16 and 17 - and felt great about a couple of sweet par saves there on 15 and 18 - I showed a little emotion and showed that it meant something to me."

It was only the fifth round this season in which no player managed a bogey-free day.

Only 14 of 76 players to make the cut broke par.

Huh fired a 71 to join the sub-par club but only after going eagle-birdie to finish his round.

At the par-4 17th, Huh holed a 73-foot bunker shot for eagle.

Grace fired a 70, making two birdies and a bogey on both the front and back nines.