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Hughes stays on top in RSM Classic

MIAMI (AFP) – Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes overcame a triple bogey to shoot a two-under-par 68 and keep a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s windy third round of the US PGA Tour’s RSM Classic.

Hughes took a 7 at the par-4 11th, his only over-par hole in the first 54, to stand on 16-under 196 entering Sunday’s final round at the par-70 Seaside course at the Sea Island, Georgia, resort.

The 25-year-old tour rookie from Hamilton, ranked 287th in the world, is playing in only his ninth PGA event. His best result was a share of 13th in last month’s 2016-17 campaign opener, the Safeway Classic.

Sharing second on 197 were Taiwan’s Pan Cheng-Tsung, Colombia’s Camilo Villegas and American Billy Horschel with American Chesson Hadley another stroke adrift.

Hughes started strong with a 16-foot birdie putt at the second hole and one twice as long at the par-3 third. Then came seven pars in a row before his disaster at 11.

Hughes found native brush area off the tee to the right of the fairway, then put his second and third shots into fairway bunkers. After reaching the green on his fourth shot, the Canadian ran a seven-foot double bogey putt past the cup and tapped in to end the misery.

‘‘I was like, ‘This hole is never going to end,’’’ Hughes said. ‘‘It finally did and it worked out all right.’’

He responded with another 16-foot birdie putt at the 13th then added a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, a 10-footer at the 16th and two closing pars to sustain his hopes of being the tour’s first wire-to-wire winner since top-ranked Australian Jason Day at this year’s Players Championship.

‘‘It was nice to bounce back and to feel like I’m going this way not stepping back,’’ Hughes said.

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