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Wolff bags three eagles in five holes to grab early PGA lead

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Los Angeles (AFP)

US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff made three eagles in a five-hole span to grab the clubhouse lead in Saturday's third round of the US PGA Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Wolff, a 21-year-old American who won last year's US college crown, fired a 10-under par 61 to stand on 18-under 195 after 54 holes at TPC of Summerlin in suburban Las Vegas.

"I put myself in a really good spot for the final day," Wolff said. "I'm pretty pleased with my ball striking and how everything has come together."

Wolff became only the fifth US PGA player since 1983 to make three eagles on a front or back nine in a PGA event.

"With those three eagles, it kind of just propelled me to the top," Wolff said.

Scotland's Martin Laird and American Austin Cook were on the back nine level with Wolff atop the leaderboard at 18-under and looking for more.

Wolff, who won his first PGA title at last year's 3M Open just weeks after turning professional, shared fourth at the PGA Championship in August in his major debut, then led entering the last day before losing to Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open

After pitching in a birdie from the rough from 70 feet at the third hole and back-to-back birdies at nine and 10, Wolff began his eagle run at the par-4 11th, holing out from the fairway from 116 yards with a lob wedge.

"It was just a smooth one and one hop," Wolff said. "I think skipped past the hole and spun back in, so really nice to jump start the back nine.

"You never expect to hole out but when it happens it puts you in a really good mindset."

Wolff reached the green in two at the par-5 13th, dropping his approach just inside 18 feet and sinking the putt.

"Another great drive and then a perfect number on the second shot," Wolff said. "Hit my hybrid way up in to the air and then rolled in a putt for that."

Wolff blasted his tee shot at the par-4 15th 298 yards to 15 feet and sank another eagle putt

"The 3-wood on 15 was probably one of the best shots of the day," Wolff said.

Wolff had another 15-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th but rolled it just past the cup and settled for birdie, then parred into the clubhouse, missing birdie putts from just outside 14 and 12 feet.

"Still could putt a little better, but I was really happy with where the ball striking is at. I'm sure the putts will drop tomorrow."

He wasn't that unhappy about missing out on the chance to shoot 59 or lower.

"When you shoot only two-under on the front, you never think you have a chance to shoot 59," Wolff said. "I gave myself as many looks as I could but I'm sure I'll get the opportunity again."

DeChambeau, who had been only one stroke adrift after 36 holes, stumbled with two bogeys and two double bogeys in the first six holes but reeled off four birdies in a row starting at the par-3 eighth to battle back.

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