Las Vegas - American Ben Martin, seeking his first US PGA Tour title, has fired a nine-under par 62 to seize a two-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the Shriners Hospitals Open.
Martin made five birdies in a row from the 13th through 17th holes on his way to matching the day's low round and moving atop the leaderboard on 17-under 196 after 54 holes at TPC Summerlin.
"It was just one of those days when you get in the zone," Martin said. "It seemed like every time I grabbed a club it was the perfect number. I was just trying to stay in the moment, trying to engage on every shot."
Martin took the first 54-hole lead of his PGA career with Scotsman Russell Knox shooting 66 to stand on 198, his second-place position the best of his PGA career as he bids for his first crown.
Americans Jimmy Walker and Andrew Svoboda shared third on 200 with compatriots Scott Piercy, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Streelman and defending champion Webb Simpson sharing fifth on 201.
Martin, who missed the cut last week and in his first two Las Vegas starts, made 9 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation.
After opening with a 24-foot birdie putt, Martin took his lone bogey at the third then rebounded with birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh holes.
He began the back nine with a 47-foot birdie putt and then made his birdie run, opened and closed with 15-foot birdie putts at the par-5 13th and par-3 17th.
Martin achieved his best PGA showing with three third-place finishes earlier this year, most recently in June at the National.
Knox had his best PGA showing earlier this year as well, losing in a four-man playoff at the Honda Classic last March.
Simpson birdied three of the last six holes, the last from four feet on 18, to shoot 67 and give himself a chance at a title repeat.
"I stayed patient and was able to get on a run and hang in there," he said. "It's going to take a really special round for me to be in contention."
Leading scores after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Tour Shriners Hospitals Open (USA unless noted, par-71):
196 - Ben Martin 68-66-62
198 - Russell Knox (SCO) 65-67-66
200 - Jimmy Walker 69-69-62, Andrew Svoboda 66-67-67
201 - Kevin Streelman 71-67-63, Brooks Koepka 69-68-64, Scott Piercy 67-67-67, Webb Simpson 69-65-67
202 - Alex Cejka (GER) 69-68-65, David Hearn (CAN) 70-66-66, Bill Lunde 68-68-66, Jason Bohn 68-68-66, Brandt Snedeker 67-68-67, Martin Laird (SCO) 64-70-68, Spencer Levin 71-63-68, Jim Herman 68-72-62
203 - Tony Finau 68-65-70
204 - Jonathan Byrd 69-69-66, John Merrick 69-70-65, Kevin Stadler 67-70-67, Hudson Swafford 69-67-68, Wes Roach 67-67-70, George McNeill 71-63-70
205 - Bryce Molder 68-70-67, Robert Streb 71-67-67, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 67-71-67, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 66-71-68, Harris English 71-68-66, Stewart Cink 64-75-66, Scott Brown 70-67-68, Jonathan Randolph 68-71-66, Colt Knost 68-72-65, Andrew Putnam 67-65-73