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Wagner leads Mayakoba Golf Classic

PGA Tour (75x100)PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Johnson Wagner moved into contention for his second PGA Tour title, shooting a 6-under 65 on Saturday for a one-stroke lead over Chris Stroud after the third round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Wagner, the 2008 Houston Open winner, had a 13-under 200 total on the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course on the Caribbean coast.

“It looks like there’s a lot of people on the leaderboard within a few shots, so you can’t be looking at the leaderboard thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got to stay ahead of these people,”’ Wagner said. “I have to go out and make birdies and try to play the same kind of rounds that I’ve played the last two days.”

The former Virginia Tech player dropped a stroke on the par-5 fifth, then eagled the par-5 eighth and birdied the ninth. He also birdied Nos. 11-13 and 16.

“We had a rain delay, which helped me quite a bit to calm down and slow down a bit,” Wagner said. “And then I started playing great, chipped in for eagle on eight, hit it close on nine for birdie and just seemed like I had good birdie putt after good birdie putt on the back nine. They all didn’t go in, but a lot of them did.”

Stroud, the second-round leader after making eight straight birdies in a 63, followed up with a 70. He had an eagle, a birdie and two bogeys.

“Today was a struggle off the tee, especially the front nine, so I’m going to go to the range and try to straighten that out a little bit,” Stroud said. “But the same thing, same swing thoughts, same goal tomorrow. Just give myself as many chances as possible. I really felt good over the putter today even though I didn’t make many.”

Bobby Gates (64), Spencer Levin (67) and Jarrod Lyle (67) were 11 under.

Defending champion Cameron Beckman (65) was 10 under along with Jeff Quinney (65), John Merrick (65), Briny Baird (66) and Sunghoon Kang (69). Champions Tour player John Cook (66) and Charles Howell III (67) topped a group at 9 under.

The rain softened the greens a bit but didn’t change the speed.

“You couldn’t really tell any difference in the speed,” Gates said. “They were perfect. They were the same all day and they’ve been the same all week. I think tomorrow I’m expecting them to be about the same. They’re just perfect. I think some people have asked if they’re real just because they’re so good. They’re awesome.”

Wagner is making his first appearance in the tournament.

“All my friends that have come down here told me how incredible the golf course is, and when I got down here I was not disappointed,” he said. “It is phenomenal. This golf course fits nicely with my game. You’ve got to really play well. It’s in immaculate condition and I’m just really loving the town of Playa del Carmen.”