Seeking to win an event on the PGA Tour for the third consecutive year, Scott Stallings fired a 9-under 63 Saturday to emerge from a crowded leaderboard and take a commanding lead into the final round of the Humana Challenge.
Playing on the Nicklaus Private course, Stallings carded five birdies to go along with a pair of eagles and has yet to drop a shot through 54 holes. At 22-under 194, he leads by five shots over a group of five players that includes Stewart Cink and Charles Howell III.
In search of his first win since the 2009 British Open, Cink carded a 6-under 66 on the Palmer Private course and is in position for his first top-10 finish since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship. Howell, who tied for third last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, shot a 5-under 67 at Palmer Private Saturday and enters the final round with a chance to end a winless drought that extends back to 2007.
After shooting a 10-under 62 at the Nicklaus Private course - the lowest round of the event through three rounds - Brian Stuard moved into a share of seventh place at 16 under, six off the pace, hoping to improve upon his T-5 showing last week in Honolulu. He is joined there by a group that includes Sang-Moon Bae, who carded an 8-under 64 Saturday, and Billy Horschel, whose 7-under 65 was the lowest round of the day at La Quinta Country Club.
Appearing for much of the day to be in jeopardy of missing the 54-hole cut, Phil Mickelson closed with birdies on two of his last three holes at the Palmer Private course for a 6-under 66 to advance by two shots. At 11 under, Mickelson will start Sunday's round tied for 52nd, 11 shots behind Stallings.
Among the notable names that found themselves on the wrong side of the cut line after Saturday's third round were reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and Tim Clark, who was a runner-up in Hawaii a week ago.