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2023 Sanderson Farms Championship: Ben Griffin eyes first PGA Tour win heading into final round

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Ben Griffin moved into position for his first Pga Tour victory with another bogey-free round Saturday for a 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead in the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Griffin got up-and-down for par on his final three holes, the last one from a bunker to the right of the 18th green. He made the 6-footer to keep his distance over Carl Yuan, who had a 67.

At stake for Griffin is a spot in the Masters, starting the year at Kapalua for The Sentry and perhaps being frontrunner for PGA Tour rookie of the year.

Griffin was at 20-under 296 and has not made a bogey in his last 37 holes, although he tempted fate a few times at the Country Club of Jackson. He hit only seven fairways and missed four greens, the most of any round this week.

“I got myself out of position on a holes, maybe made the wrong decision,” Griffin said with a smile. “But I feel like one of the strengths of my game is scrambling. And I had to do that on a few holes. Otherwise, I pretty much hit my targets all day.”

Griffin already has his PGA Tour card locked up for next year, but a victory would really set him up for 2024 and the $20 million tournaments.

Yuan is No. 151 in the FedEx Cup. Only the top 125 after the FedEx Cup Fall earn full status for 2024, and five tournaments remain after this week.

Those right behind Yuan know the feeling. Scott Stallings (No. 130), Henrik Norlander (No. 142) and Luke List (No. 119) were tied for third, four shots behind.

Stalling matched the low score of the third round, a 65 that was helped by his 50-foot pitch from just short of the reachable 15th that he sank for eagle. He gave credit to Wesley Bryan, having watched his pitch from the rough race through the green. That made Stallings change his shot, realizing how fast it is in the front.

“I was going to play a completely different shot until I saw how fast his ball was once it got past the hole,” Stallings said. “I was literally trying to check-spin it just over the edge, and obviously it got super lucky going in. But I was happy with how I executed it.”

Norlander and List each shot a 68.

Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, coming off his Ryder Cup debut in Italy, finally came to life late in his round. He made five birdies over the last eight holes for a 66, closing the gap to six shots.

Aberg is at No. 136, though his card is locked in for 2024 because he finished at No. 1 in the PGA Tour University ranking as a senior at Texas Tech. Among other things, getting into the top 125 would earn him a spot in The Players Championship.

Griffin could tell the course was yielding good scores when he teed off, and he got going in the right direction quickly. He hit a tricky wedge from the Bermuda rough that rolled out to 4 feet for birdie on the second hole, and then two-putted for birdie from 35 feet on the par-5 third.

After that, he made sure he stayed in front, adding a few 12-foot birdies and his longest putt on the 13th from about 25 feet.

Griffin began his rookie year with a chance to win the Bermuda Championship, only to get surpassed late in the day and tying for third.

Copyright 2023 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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2023 Sanderson Farms Championship: Ben Griffin eyes first PGA Tour win heading into final round

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