SANDY — In life comfort sure is nice — an added bonus to any situation. On Saturday in the third round of the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship, Michael Putnam had a double-dose of it.
Putnam, the 2010 champion at Willow Creek Country Club, used familiarity of the course while playing along Andres Gonzales – whom he's known since he was 14 – to his advantage.
Putnam gunned a 7-under-63 to push his 54-hole count to 17-under for a four-shot lead heading into Sunday.
"I like this place. I have good vibes around here; I see the shots pretty well," Putnam said. "I seem to play well most every round, so I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow."
Pretty well indeed.
In 19 registered rounds at Willow Creek, Putnam has penciled in 18 par or better scores, and 13 have been in the 60s. Today, he matched his personal course-low, with the help of his childhood friend.
"It was awesome 'cause Andres and I play every day when we're home together," Putnam said of the second-to-last grouping. "We're really comfortable out there, cheering for each other. We know each other's games so much that we can club off each other. It made it a really comfortable day."
The success is derivative of a long recovery from a broken wrist that knocked Putnam off the PGA Tour when he withdrew after finishing 19th at AT&T and 12th at the John Deere.
"Played on heavy Advil," Putnam joked. "Part of the problem is the guy on tour told me it was just inflammation, we didn't diagnose it right. So, I played with it taped. I got an MRI and the doctor diagnosed a broken wrist."
Putnam fired a 6-under-30 on the back nine, including a stretch of five consecutive birdies.
On the par-3 No. 11, which Putnam described as "one of the hardest holes of the day," he hit a 4-iron to 6-feet.
On No. 12, he two-putted for birdie. On No. 13, he hit his approach shot to three feet. On No.14, he drove the green to 15 feet for eagle, but missed the putt, "short, right in the heart" for a tap-in birdie.
On No.15, he sunk a snaking 20-footer before closing his round with a 6-foot birdie on No. 18.
Morgan Hoffmann, leader after the first two rounds, struggled after lightning warnings suspended play for an hour while the leaders were on the second hole. He started birdie-birdie, missing an eagle putt on par-5 No.1 by inches, but eventually finished 1-over – losing his tee shot into the pond on No. 18.
Robert Streb shot a 6-under-65 to move four behind the pace in second place. Doug LaBelle II and Gonzales both sit at 12 under and Tyrone van Aswegen, after tying the course record on Friday, is 11 under after shooting a 70.
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