SAN MARTIN — Victory is so close the golfers of the Open can almost taste it — but they’ve got to make it through one more day.
Brooks Koepka found himself a top the leaderboard for the second straight day Saturday, finishing 15 under and shooting a 67 to gain a two shot lead after 54 holes and three days of play at CordeValle Golf Course.
“(It’s) better (being ahead) than being behind,” Koepka said. “What is it now, two shots? Two is better than one.”
The 23-year-old is just one day away from clinching his first PGA TOUR victory. But after picking up wins on the Challenge Tour this year, Koepka said he’s not feeling the pressure as No.1.
“Obviously I think there maybe some people that don’t think I can handle it on Sunday just for the fact that I’ve never been sitting in this position,” he said. “(I’ve) just got to take it as it comes just be relaxed about it. I’m pretty chill so nothing really bothers me.”
Florida State has a lot to be proud as the No. 1 Koepka and No. 2 George McNeill both hail from it’s program. McNeill shot a 62 and – 13 to tie with Jason Kokrak for second place.
McNeill has won twice on the TOUR but neither victory has allowed him to qualify for The Masters. A ‘W’ tomorrow will give him that elusive invitation that he’s been seeking.
“We’ll see what happens,” McNeill said. “I’ve had a couple final groups this year — once was at Quail Hallow and Charlotte and (I) didn’t play very well. Every day is different and every week is different. I am feeling a lot more comfortable.”
Koepka, McNeill and Kokrak are paired together for Sunday and will tee off from Hole 1 at 12:05 p.m.
Rounding out Saturday’s top five are Jimmy Walker, who shot a 62, Vijay Singh, who shot a 65, and Robert Garrigus, who shot 68 for a three-way tie for fourth. All three sit at 12 under. The trio are grouped together for the tournament’s final day and will tee off from Hole 1 at 11:55 a.m.
Walker is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory, a goal of which he is certainly in striking distance of.
“You know, you need (a) little bit of luck I think and you need to play good,” Walker said. “Maybe (I) just haven’t played as good as I need to on the last day or somewhere during the golf tournament to win. So (I) go out there tomorrow, you know and good things happen.”
Singh had fans on the edge of their seats late, picking up a birdie on Hole 16 and an eagle on Hole 17, sending the ‘Beers for Birdies’ tent into a frenzy.
“The wind died a little bit and it was just a nice, smooth driver and came out perfect,” he said. “All the way up there and kind of slow rolled it to the hole. …I didn’t see it roll back, but I heard the crowd.”
Hoisting the Open Cup is certainly an achievable goal for the Fiji native, but he’s not nervous. Instead, Singh said he’d rather play from behind than worry about maintaining the lead.
“I’m not in the lead, so coming from behind is much easier than being in the lead and (I) haven’t won for a long time,” he said. “But I feel good. If I keep playing well, there is not much nerves. If you’re not playing well and making all kinds of putts, then obviously you’re going to have some nerves.”
Play continues tomorrow in the final round of the Open with the first groups teeing off at 10:15 a.m.
Nine more players were cut following Saturday’s round. They were: Tim Clark (73), Chesson Hadley (73), Chad Collins (73), Geoff Ogilvy (71), Justin Thomas (71), Stewart Cink (73), Alex Aragon (73), Justin Leonard (73) and Jeff Maggert (76).

  1. Brooks Koepka – 15

     T2. George McNeill -13
     T2. Jason Kokrak -13
     T4. Jimmy Walker -12
     T4. Vijay Singh -12
     T4. Robert Garrigus -12
     T7. Will MacKenzie -10
     T7. Max Homa -10
     T7. Ben Martin -10
     T7. Ryo Ishikawa -10
     T7. Jim Herman -10

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