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McNeill grabs lead in Puerto Rico

Sat 10th, March 2012

Rio Grande, Puerto Rico (Sports Network) - George McNeill birdied the final two holes Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Puerto Rico Open.

McNeill, who shot five-under 67 Saturday, finished 54 holes at 13-under-par 203. He will go for his second PGA Tour title on Sunday.

"I'm not saying I'm going to win, because you never know," said McNeill. "I don't foresee trying to do anything different. Obviously I'm not going to try and force anything unless I have to coming down the last few holes. I don't know what's going to happen."

Henrik Stenson, the 2009 Players Championship winner, fired a seven-under 65 to move into a share of second place at minus-12 with Kevin Stadler (66).

Second-round leader Matt Jones had two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, then parred his final nine holes for an even-par 72. He ended three rounds at 11-under-par 205 on the Composite Course at Trump International Golf Club.

Ryo Ishikawa, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 53, carded a three-under 69. He was joined in fifth place by Daniel Summerhays (68) and Scott Brown (65).

McNeill was one of five players that had at least a piece of the lead during the third round. He was in the final group with Jones and didn't get to the top of the leaderboard until the back nine.

Jones birdied the second and fifth to push his lead to three. He stumbled to bogeys on the eighth and ninth to make the turn at 11-under, where he led by one.

McNeill eagled the par-five fifth, but gave those strokes back when he bogeyed the seventh and eighth.

The 2007 Frys.com Open winner fought right back with birdies on nine and 10 to get back within one of the lead. McNeill converted a birdie try on 13 to join Jones and Stadler atop the leaderboard.

After three straight pars, McNeill rolled in birdie efforts at the final two holes to grab the 54-hole lead.

"The golf course fits my eye. I get out there and I look at it, and I just feel comfortable," said McNeill. "I played the back nine pretty well all week, so just tried to remember that and move forward."

Stenson, who also won the 2007 WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship, birdied three of the first six holes. He tripped to a bogey on the par-three eighth, but fought back with three birdies in a four-hole span from the ninth to jump to minus-10.

The Swede, who hasn't had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since sharing third at the 2010 British Open, birdied the final two holes to end at 12-under, where he briefly led by one.

"I mean obviously I'm in a slightly better position than maybe some of the other guys who might be fighting for a spot to get back on the PGA Tour or hasn't won before," Stenson said. "But I think it's down to myself. And if I can stay patient as I've done these first couple of days and chip and putt well, I hope I get a chance tomorrow."

Stadler was on fire early as he birdied the first three holes. He also birdied the fifth to move to 10-under. After seven straight pars, Stadler gained a piece of the lead with a birdie on the 13th. He caught Stenson with a birdie on No. 17.

"I putted very well. I've putted a lot better than I have in the past four or five six years anyway, but felt really comfortable on these greens," Stadler admitted.

Canadian Graham DeLaet posted a four-under 68 to move into eighth place at nine-under-par 207.

NOTES: McNeill won one of the previous two times he had the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour...If Stadler can rally for the win, he and his father, Craig, would be the ninth father-son combo to win on the PGA Tour...Defending champion Michael Bradley managed an even-par 72 and is tied for 51st.

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