'It's always a big bonus to finish like that,' McNulty said. 'You're trying to put it in birdie range . . . then on 18, whammo!
He had five birdies and a bogey on the Old Course at Broken Sound.
'All in all, I was very happy,' McNulty said. 'I'm starting to look like Mark McNulty, not Mark Palooka.'
Pate, coming off a victory two weeks ago in Hawaii, birdied the first two holes, but slowed with a three-putt bogey on the third hole. He missed an 8-foot birdie attempt on the 18th moments after McNulty's eagle.
'I'm striking the ball well and I'm confident in my putting,' Pate said. 'That's a good combination.'
He missed only one green in regulation.
'I made some longer putts and missed some shorter ones,' Pate said. 'It was just a solid 66.'
Jay Haas, the leader most of the day before dropping back with bogeys on 14 and 16, was at 67 along with Bobby Wadkins, Tom Purtzer, Scott Hoch, Keith Fergus, Gil Morgan and Phil Blackmar.
Haas and Wadkins were in the same threesome.
'It's like a race car,' Wadkins said. 'You just get drafted and go along with him. He shot a very easy 67 and I feel like I did the same thing. It was fun.'
Purtzer played the back nine first and was at even par before shooting a 5-under 31 on the front nine.
Allen Doyle started on the back nine and didn't get under par until a birdie at 18. Then he birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to get to 4 under. He was at 68 along with Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Brad Bryant, Wayne Levi and Morris Hatalsky.
Fourteen players were at 69.
Defending champion Mark James was four shots back after a 70. He was 2 over on the seemingly easier front nine before going 4 under on the back nine.