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Lashley fires 63 to seize six-stroke PGA Detroit lead

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Washington (AFP)

Nate Lashley, the last player to make the field, fired a nine-under par 63 to seize a six-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The 36-year-old American, ranked 353rd in the world, turned in a bogey-free round -- the lowest score of the day -- to stand on 23-under 193 after 54 holes at Detroit Golf Club with compatriot J.T. Poston second on 199.

Both are in position to capture the two available spots from this week's event for next month's British Open at Royal Portrush.

Cameron Tringale was third on 200 with 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed another stroke back after both shot 65 Saturday.

It would be an amazing long-sought victory for Lashley, who has had to overcome tragedy in his career. When he was a junior at the University of Arizona, his parents and girlfriend died in a plane crash while flying home from watching him play in a tournament.

After a knee injury cut short his 2018 PGA debut season, Lashley is playing on a secondary exemption after starting the season on a medical extension, his 2019-20 season status uncertain.

Lashley, who only made the event when David Berganio withdrew on Wednesday, sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, added back-to-back birdies on a five-foot putt at the par-5 fourth and a 13-footer at the par-3 fifth, then put his approach inside five feet and birdied the par-5 seventh to seize command at 18-under for the tournament, making the turn in the lead by two strokes.

After opening the back nine with a birdie, Lashley sank a four-footer to birdie 12 and a three-footer to birdie the par-5 14th to reach 21-under, stretching his advantage to five shots.

Lashley lipped out on a 10-foot birdie putt at 16 but sank a nine-footer for birdie at the par-5 17th and a four-footer to birdie the 18th and close his epic round.

Lashley shared 28th at the US Open two weeks ago, making his major debut at Pebble Beach.

Tringale, seeking his first PGA title, made eight birdies but a closing birdie dropped him xxx adrift of Lashley.

"I did everything well today," Tringale said. "Just trying to play with poise and let the round come to me. So far it's paying off."

Reed, who hasn't won since taking his first major title last year at Augusta National, hasn't managed a top-10 finish since sharing seventh at last October's WGC event in China.

"I was able to get the speed right and the balls were finally going in the hole," Reed said.

"The biggest thing is it lets me know (my top form) is really close. To continue hitting the ball well and make the putts, it lets me know it's coming soon. To get that validation really helps."

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