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Chris Kirk leads by two heading into final round

Chris Kirk leads by two heading into final round

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — After firing a bogey-free 8-under 62 Friday to skyrocket up the Honda Classic leaderboard, Chris Kirk played steady golf on Saturday before finishing with a flourish.

Kirk, who started the day one shot behind second-round leader Justin Suh, finished birdie-birdie Saturday for a 4-under 66 and a two-shot lead over PGA Tour rookie Eric Cole.

Cole continued his standout play, posting his second consecutive 66 to finish at 11 under through three rounds at the Champion course at PGA National Resort & Spa. Suh shot an even-par 70 and was in third place at 10 under.

Kirk had gotten to 4 under for the round through 12 holes before a couple of admittedly bad bogeys at 13 and 16 when he didn’t get up and down from just off the green. But he sank an 18-foot putt for birdie at the par-3 17th and then got a favorable ruling when his second shot to the par-5 18th lodged under a sandbag against the grandstand behind the green. He was allowed to drop his ball in a good spot. He got up and down, making a 6½-foot putt.

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“It definitely made that a much more doable shot,” said Kirk of the ruling. “It was a shot that I could have gotten up and down for sure hitting a flop shot from the rough over the bunker, but thankfully where I dropped was much more straightforward. The lie was clean, but that grass right there was kind of sandy and straight into the grain. That was why I chose to hit that kind of low driving shot, just to give myself a little better chance at some good contact. That was one where if I try to hit more of a higher pitch and land it on the green, I could have hit it right in front of myself.

“It was definitely a good break, but I executed a great pitch shot there and drained the putt, which was a nice way to finish.”

Kirk, who had an eagle and six birdies Friday, took the lead Saturday on the fourth hole when he birdied and Suh didn’t save par from a greenside bunker. Kirk, of Athens, Georgia, added birdies at the eighth and 11th to get to 12 under for a three-shot lead over his closest pursuers.

A turning point came on the par-4 12th, when Suh hit an 8-iron from 153 yards into the hole for an eagle, which put him at 11 under.

“I was asking for it to sit. My caddie wanted it to go, and it was right in the middle, so it was perfect,” said Suh.

But Kirk followed that by rolling in an 11-footer for birdie to get to 13 under.

“I guess that was somewhat making a…


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