PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – Eugene, Oregon resident Colin Inglis birdied three of his final six holes to grab hold of the 54-hole advantage in the 43rd National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship.
Inglis finished with a 3-under 69 to reach 6-under 210 for the Championship, one stroke clear of Caleb Wittig and Colin Van Es, each sitting at 5-under 211. PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course is playing host this week.
“I played pretty solid. Birdied the first hole, but then I started hitting it all over the place,” said Inglis, a PGA Assistant Professional at Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell, Oregon. “I made some really long par putts that saved my round. On the back nine, I started to figure things out.”
The lone bogey for Inglis came on the par-4 No. 5. He closed with birdies on 13, 16 and 18, the last of which propelled him into the solo lead.
“I really haven’t been playing much golf,” admitted Inglis. “The weather hasn’t been very good in Oregon. I didn’t have many expectations coming here, which has probably helped me a bit.”
Wittig has carded a pair of sub-70 rounds (67 and 69) following his first-round 75. With a victory on Sunday, Wittig would join Bill Loeffler (1992) for the highest start by a winner.
“The last two days, I haven’t been out of position off the tee much,” said Wittig, resident of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. “I figured something out on the range yesterday. Yesterday and today have been relatively stress-free.”
Wittig collected five birdies in the third round and two bogeys on Saturday. The highlight occurred on No. 18, where Wittig hit a rare missed fairway into the right-side bunker. From approximately 150 yards, he knocked it on the green eight feet above the pin and rolled in the downhill birdie.
Champions Gate, Florida’s Van Es posted his second consecutive 71 of the Championship. He played steady on Saturday with 15 pars, a bogey on No. 4 and a pair of birdies on No. 5 and 13.
Matt Rachey is alone in fourth place. After holding a share of the 36-hole lead, the Waconia, Minnesota resident carded a 1-over 73 on Saturday to slip two strokes back.
In a tie for fifth place is Alex Beach, who has a shot at history on Sunday. A victory for Beach would make him the first player in history to win multiple PGA of America National Championships in the same calendar year. Earlier this year, Beach won the 52nd PGA Professional Championship in Bluffton, South Carolina.
At one point, Beach held a two-stroke lead on Saturday. But he faltered with a pair of double-bogeys coming in on holes 13 and 17 to finish with a 2-over 74. Joining Beach at 3-under 213 is Carlos Sainz Jr. of Houston.
Of the 79 players who advanced to the weekend, only 10 are under par through three rounds.
This week’s champion, if eligible, will earn a berth in the 2020 PGA Professional Championship, which is slated for April 26-29 at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. The winner will also receive $12,000 of the $150,000 purse. The top-four finishers, if eligible, will earn a berth in next year’s National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, to be held November 12-15 at PGA Golf Club.