JB Holmes fired a four-under par 68 Saturday to match fellow American Harris English for the lead after the third round of the $6.3 million US PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open.
Holmes, who ended a six-year tour win drought last year at Quail Hollow, stood on nine-under 207 after 54 holes at Torrey Pines following a round that featured seven birdies and three bogeys.
"I had a great round and put myself in position for Sunday. that`s all you can ask for," Holmes said.
"The course was playing tough but I made it around and I made a few putts."
English, who began the day leading and without an over-par hole, opened with a birdie but took a double bogey at the fourth. He sank a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th but missed a 20-footer at the par-3 16th and took a bogey.
"It`s a battle out there," English said. "You have got to stay patient. You have to grind it out and I feel like I did that out there."
In all, there were 12 players within two strokes of the lead.
Americans Lucas Glover, Jimmy Walker, Spencer Levin, Chad Campbell and Nick Watney were on 208 with Americans Bill Haas, Alex Prugh and Andres Gonzales joined by Australian Jason Day and Venezuela`s Jhonny Vegas on 209.
Holmes popped in a 45-yard birdie from the rough at the fourth, found a bunker off the tee on the way to a bogey at the fifth but popped out of a greenside bunker three feet from the cup on the way to a birdie at the par-5 sixth and birdied the seventh as well.
After opening the back nine with a birdie, Holmes birdied from 19 feet at the par-5 13th and 13 feet at the par-4 14th. He stumbled with bogeys at 15 and 17 but closed with an 11-foot birdie.
"The greens are fast and firm and the rough is tough," Holmes said.
"If you don`t hit it in the fairway you are going to have trouble getting to the green and if you don`t put it on the right side, you are going to have trouble making par."
Walker hit 10 of 14 fairways on his way to a 70.
"Drove it better but it`s still hard from the fairways - tough pins and firm greens," Walker said.
Levin fired 70 by avoiding the deep rough.
"I drove the ball great," he said. "I only hit the high rough once today. All in all I`m striking the ball really well."