Taylor Pendrith leads Byron Nelson as one of several seeking first PGA Tour victory

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Taylor Pendrith, right, laughs with fellow competitor Davis Riley, left, at the second hole tee box during the third round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament in McKinney, Texas, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

MCKINNEY, Texas – Taylor Pendrith has been here before — holding or sharing a lead after three rounds on the PGA Tour.

The Canadian was one of six among the top 10 on the leaderboard seeking a first tour victory at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson.

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Pendrith chipped in twice for consecutive eagles to kick-start an 8-under 63 on Saturday for a one-shot lead over second-round leader Jake Knapp.

“I have no idea,” Pendrith said when asked if he'd ever had back-to-back eagles, which came on the par-5 fifth and par-4 sixth holes as he finished at 19-under 194. “I don't think so. Maybe a first.”

It was the third time on the PGA Tour this season, and vaulted him ahead of Knapp. Pendrith's lead was two before Knapp birdied the par-5 18th for a 67.

Ben Kohles (65) and first-round leader Matt Wallace (67) were two shots off the lead, one stroke ahead of Alex Noren and Kelly Kraft, playing near his Dallas home at the TPC Craig Ranch in the suburb of McKinney.

Troy Merritt, the only two-time PGA Tour winner among the top 10, shot 70 and was at 14 under with three others, including one-time winner Kevin Tway. The son of 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway shot 64, while Vince Whaley and Byeong Hun An each shot 66.

Wallace and Knapp, a rookie won won the Mexico Open in February, are the others with PGA Tour victories.

Pendrith settled for second from the top of the third-round leaderboard at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2022. He was in the same position at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship earlier that season before a 76 left him in a tie for fifth.

“I think just stay patient and play my own game and don’t get ahead of myself,” Pendrith said. “Make as many birdies as you can, because I think it’ll take a low one tomorrow.”

Pendrith was working on a low one after a 26-foot chip shot rolled around the hole and went in, then a 41-yarder bounced about 25 feet from the hole and rolled in with almost perfect speed.

The 32-year-old who has won twice on the Canadian tour is 7 under on those two holes. They were the first two of five consecutive birdies in the second round.

“Obviously, a bonus for both of those to go in,” Pendrith said. “Two really good shots. First one had a little bit of steam so maybe got a little lucky to drop.”

Knapp was coming off consecutive 64s and had his second bogey-free round with a pair of birdies on each nine.

The 29-year-old Californian who was working as a security guard back home three years ago had to hang on during a rough final round for the win in Mexico. Now he'll be chasing while still playing in the final group.

“I think I do best when I kind of do leaderboard watch and I see what other guys are doing,” Knapp said. “You see what guys are doing in the morning and you get an idea of maybe how the course is playing.”

Wallace — a 34-year-old Englishman with 10 international victories, including four on the European tour — answered his second bogey of the week on 16 with birdies on the final two holes.

“I don’t know many people around me have won more tournaments around the world than myself,” said Wallace, whose tour victory was in the Dominican Republic last year. “Not that that’s a big brag, but I feel like I know how to get the job done.”

Kohles, who was born in Dallas but moved when he was 10, had a 263-yard second shot to 12 feet and made the eagle putt on the par-5 ninth for a 5-under 31 on the front. He bogeyed the par-4 11th before the last two of his five birdies.

The 34-year-old shot 73 playing in the final group in Puerto Rico in March, finishing fifth. Kohles has three career top-10 finishes.

Kris Kim, a 16-year-old amateur making his PGA Tour debut, nearly had a hole-in-one on the 225-yard fourth hole, the ball rolling within inches of the cup. The son of South Korean-born former LPGA golfer Ji-Hyun Suh shot 70 and was 8 under.

Kim, who is from England and playing on a sponsor exemption from the South Korean company and tournament title sponsor CJ Group, was set to become the youngest to play the final round of a PGA Tour event since Guan Tianlang at the 2014 CIMB Classic. Tianlang was 16 years, eight days old.

At 16 years, seven months, Kim surpassed Jordan Spieth as the youngest player to make the cut at the Nelson. Spieth was two months shy of his 17th birthday when made his first PGA Tour start at his hometown event in 2010, and tied for 16th. Kim was tied for 51st.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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