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Saturday's roundup: Martin takes lead with birdie run

Associated Press

Las Vegas — Ben Martin birdied five straight holes on the back nine Saturday and finished with a 9-under 62 to take a two-stroke lead in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Winless in 55 career starts on the PGA Tour, the 27-year-old former Clemson player matched his best score on the tour — set last year in the Zurich Classic — to get to 17-under 196 at TPC Summerlin.

He has the 54-hole lead for the first time on the PGA Tour.

"Just go out tomorrow with the same mind-set, head down, and try to keep making birdies," Martin said.

Martin had four birdies on the front nine, birdied No. 10 and took the lead with his birdie run on Nos. 13-17.

"I felt it from the first hole (when) I made a 20-footer for birdie," Martin said. "So I felt confident with my putter and I was getting a lot of looks. I've played that stretch of holes well all week, 15 and 16, and that's really the part of the course that most guys are making their birdies."

Scotland's Russell Knox, tied for the second-round lead with Andrew Putnam, was second after a 66.

"Bogey-free on a Saturday is exactly what I wanted," Knox said. "I knew I was going to make birdies and I'm seeing the lines on the greens really well. I knew if I just limited my mistakes, I was going to be right up there."

Jimmy Walker also had a 62 to move into a tie for third with Andrew Svoboda at 13 under. Walker won three times last season and played in the Ryder Cup.

"Well, I think I hit a lot of greens and I had a lot of really good looks," Walker said. "I remember there was a lot of putts that didn't go in, too, but I hit a lot of close shots and I made some really good putts. It was fun. Hit it good and putted good."

Svoboda had a 67.

Defending champion Webb Simpson also had a 67 to join Kevin Streelman (63), Brooks Koepka (64) and Scott Piercy (67) at 12 under.

Streelman birdied eight of his last 11 holes. Koepka eagled the par-5 ninth and 290-yard, par-4 15th.

Piercy is playing on a major medical extension this season. He had surgery on his right arm in February.

Putnam shot a 73 to drop into a tie for 24th at 8 under. He had six bogeys, four in a six-hole stretch on the back nine.

Jarrod Lyle was tied for 42nd at 6 under after a 70. The Australian is making his second PGA Tour start since a recurrence of leukemia some 18 months ago.

World Match Play Championship

Dutchman Joost Luiten extended his unbeaten run in the World Match Play Championship at Ash, England, routing Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 6 and 5 in the quarterfinals.

Luiten had seven birdies in overcast and wet conditions on The London Golf Club to set up a semifinal match Sunday against Finland's Mikko Ilonen, a 2-up winner over France's Victor Dubuisson.

Luiten was 3-0 in round-robin play to reach the quarterfinals.

In the other semifinal, Sweden's Henrik Stenson will face South Africa's George Coetzee.

Stenson beat Swedish compatriot Jonas Blixt 2 up, and Coetzee topped American Patrick Reed 2 and 1.

The final also is Sunday.


South Koreans Hee-Kyung Bae and Kyu Jung Baek both shot 4-under 68 to share the third-round lead in the KEB-HanaBank Championship at Incheon, South Korea.

Bae had five back-nine birdies on Sky72's Ocean Course, and Baek had six birdies and two bogeys.

They were at 5-under 211, a stroke ahead of second-ranked ranked Inbee Park (68), No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (71), second-round leader Karine Icher (73), Brittany Lincicome (72), Beatriz Recari (72), Sandra Gal (71), In Gee Chun (69), Pornanong Phatlum (69), Yoon Kyung Heo (70) and Ilhee Lee (71).

Park could supplant Stacy Lewis at No. 1 if she wins. Lewis is taking the week off.

U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie was two strokes back after birdieing four of her last five holes for a 67. She's is making her first start since withdrawing during the first round of the Evian Championship in September after reinjuring a stress fracture in her right hand.


Jay Haas shot a 4-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Conover, North Carolina.

Haas, the 60-year-old former Wake Forest player who won the event in 2005 and 2009, had a 12-under 130 on Rock Barn Golf and Spa's Champions Course. He extended his streak of under-par rounds to 22, making five birdies and a lone bogey on No. 17. Haas won the last of his 16 Champions Tour titles in June 2012 in Iowa.

Joe Durant, tied for the first-round lead with Haas at 63, had a 69 to drop into a tie for second with Kirk Triplett and South Africa's David Frost. Triplett, the winner last week in Cary, had a 66, and Frost shot 65.

Frost had seven birdies and a bogey to match the best round of the day. Triplett had six birdies and a bogey, and Durant birdied the final three holes to finish with six birdies and four bogeys.

Hong Kong Open

Australia's Marcus Fraser birdied four of his last six holes for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead in the Hong Kong Open, his first event after an eight-month injury layoff.

Fraser was sidelined since February because of a left hand injury that required surgery. He had an 11-under 199 total in the event sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.

Fellow Australian Scott Hend was second after a 67. Second-round leader Ernie Els was tied for sixth at 8 under after a 71. The South African star turned 45 on Friday.