Pebble Beach, Calif. — In his first PGA Tour event in five months, Jim Furyk wasted no time giving himself a chance for his first win in more than four years.
Furyk made seven birdies over his last 10 holes at Pebble Beach on Saturday for a 9-under 63 to take a one-shot lead going into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
He was at 18-under 197, one shot ahead of Matt Jones and Brandt Snedeker.
Justin Hicks (Grosse Ile) shot a 72 and dropped to 11 under. Brian Stuard (Jackson) shot a 66 and is tied for 10th at 12 under.
Jones made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and built a three-shot lead late in the glorious afternoon until he made bogey on his last two holes at Pebble Beach for a 67. Furyk caught up to him and then passed him with a wedge to a foot on the final hole. Brandt Snedeker, who went 47 holes before making his first bogey of the tournament, made a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 67.
It was Furyk's best round in two decades playing this tournament, and even he was mildly surprised.
His last official tournament was the Tour Championship on Sept. 14 when he tied for second. He also played the Ryder Cup and filled in at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, but otherwise took one of the longest breaks of his career.
"I really didn't know where I stood coming out here," Furyk said. "I was going to be very patient and see where I was, and go play Pebble and L.A. and reassess and have the week off to get ready for Doral and Tampa. I guess I'm pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't expect to be 18-under par after three days, I'll promise you that. But also didn't expect the weather to be like this either."
The cut was 7-under 209, breaking the record of 4 under in 2005.
John Daly shot 73 at Spyglass Hill and missed the cut for the 11th straight time at this tournament dating to his rookie season in 1991.
Furyk figures he has seen only five days in 20 years as pure as the weather this week, so bump that count up to 10, with more sunshine expected Sunday.
And inevitably, there will be more pressure on Furyk.
Already a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour, a U.S. Open champion and a FedEx Cup titlist, Furyk hasn't won since the 2010 Tour Championship. That's not to say he hasn't had his chances. He was a runner-up four times last year, and he has failed to convert the last eight PGA Tour events in which he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
"I want to win golf tournaments, and that's what's most important to me," Furyk said. "And I think maybe at times last year, I sat here and looked at y'all and said, 'I'm not going to put pressure on myself, I'm just going to go out there and try and play the same way.' But I think that on Sunday, it's just hard not to.
"It's not hard to look you right in the eye and say, 'I want to win golf tournaments.' But it's hard to go out the next day and try to play the same way and not put extra pressure on yourself," he added.
A one-shot lead in the final round on the PGA Tour is like having no lead at all, and Furyk has more than Snedeker and Jones to worry about. Nick Watney, who played at Fresno State and was thrilled to be playing with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, had a 65 at Pebble Beach and was two shots behind. Kevin Chappell, who grew up in Fresno, had a 66 at Pebble and was two shots behind.
Saturday is where the stars typically shine, from Posey and Huey Lewis, from Wayne Gretzky to Bill Murray. One woman asked who was in the fairway and was told it was Furyk, Watney, Posey and Lewis. She turned to a friend and said, "It's Buster Posey, Huey Lewis … and two other guys."
This time, the players did enough to attract some of the spotlight. The top on the leaderboard all played at Pebble Beach.
Furyk made an 8-foot birdie on the ninth hole and took off. He twice had tap-in birdies, and three others were inside 10 feet. He finished off by playing the par-5 18th as a three-shot hole and hitting wedge that spun back to a foot.
Jones took time to get going, but he surged into the lead with birdies on every hole on the front nine (he started at No. 10) except for No. 3. But he found a bunker on No. 8 for bogey, and his tee shot on the ninth tumbled off the fairway and into the hazard, though not all the way down to the beach.
Snedeker rolled in a 30-foot par putt on the 12th hole, and another 30-footer for birdie from just off the 15th green that gave him the lead. Also starting on the back, he had the easier front nine ahead of him. But he made a bogey from the bunker on the third hole, and missed three other chances until the birdie on No. 9.
Colin Montgomerie overcame a double bogey to shoot his second straight 6-under 66, holding onto a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the ACE Group Classic at TwinEagles Golf Club at Naples, Florida.
Montgomerie birdied four of his last six holes and is 12-under 132 for the tournament. Lee Janzen also had a double bogey but shot a 7-under 65 and is one back at 11 under.
Esteban Toledo and Scott Dunlap are both at 8-under 128. Three other players are 7 under, including Bernhard Langer, who won five tournaments in 2014 as well as 18 top-10 finishes.
Montgomerie birdied on Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 7 before faltering for a double bogey on No. 9. Janzen's double bogey came on the seventh hole. He birdied his first three holes as well as Nos. 6, 9, 12, 13, 16 and 17.
Paul Goydos, who won The Allianz Championship last week in Boca Raton, Fla., is at 5-under after a 70. Kirk Triplett, the 2014 ACE Group Classic victor, is at 4-under after a 72.
Scott Hend of Australia surged into lead of the Thailand Classic at Hua Hin by shooting a 6-under 66 in the third round despite a bogey on the last hole.
Hend used his powerful hitting to make five birdies and an eagle on the 13th before his only mishap on the 18th. His 15-under total of 201 put him one shot ahead of overnight leader Miguel Angel Jimenez and local favorite Thongchai Jaidee at the European Tour event.
Hend said "I played very solidly and putted quite well. I only made one mistake so it was pretty good. This is where you want to be, in the last group on a Sunday.
Jimenez had a bogey-free round of 69, while Thongchai carded 67.
The 51-year-old Jiminez said "I'm playing well and hitting it well. I missed a few putts (but) I'm creating lots of chances."
England's Charley Hull and Holly Clyburn and South Korea's Choi Eun-woo shared the third-round lead at the Australian Ladies Masters on a tough day for scoring at Gold Coast on the Royal Pines resort course.
Clyburn shot a 1-over 74 and Choi and Hull both had 75s for 54-hole totals of 4-under 215.
Second-round leader Rebecca Artis of Australia (79), South Korean-born Australian Oh Su-hyun (72) and Tonje Daffinrud of Norway (72) were a stroke behind.
Only seven of 67 players who made the cut broke par on Saturday.
Defending champion Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's Woods' niece, shot 73 Saturday after a 78 on Friday nearly forced her to miss the cut. She's nine strokes behind the leaders, level with English veteran Laura Davies, who shot 76.