Barnes in position to end long drought
SAN ANTONIO — Ricky Barnes shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Valero Texas Open in a bid for his first PGA Tour victory.
Winless in 221 starts with a career-best runner-up finish in the 2009 U.S. Open, the 35-year-old Barnes had an 11-under 205 total at TPC San Antonio. He closed with a bogey after a wild drive near a cactus bush on the par-5 18th.
"I'd be lying if I would say it was a successful career being out here without a win," Barnes said. "This is why you play the game, right? Come in on Sundays and have a chance to win."
Brendan Steele, the leader after each of the first two rounds, was second after a 72.
"I played with Ricky last week, and his game is looking really good right now," said Steele, the 2011 winner for his lone tour title. "I was really struggling. I was able to make enough recovery shots to not make many mistakes and I was able to be patient enough and make a couple of birdies at the end."
Former world No. 1 Luke Donald and three-time tour winner Charley Hoffman were two strokes back. Donald, coming off a second-place tie last week in the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, shot a 68. Hoffman missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the last hole and settled for a 70.
"Sure feels good to be back in contention again and having chances to win," Donald said. "I switched putters last week (and) obviously making more putts."
Patrick Reed was fifth at 8 under after a 70. He was born in San Antonio.
In addition to his seven birdies, Barnes did well to rescue himself from trouble. His bogey from the 18th could have been much worse when his drive went left and settled next to the cactus.
"A bad swing at the end," Barnes said. "If you told me 5 under today, I would have taken it before the round."
He birdied No. 11, 12 and 14 to take the lead. He managed that despite finding the fairway bunker at No. 12, and he blasted to 3 feet from a greenside bunker at the par-5 14th.
"It's not a fluke being out here," said Barnes, coming off a ninth-place tie in the RBC Heritage. "I've been showing a lot lately. Just need to keep what I'm doing the last three days."
LPGA: At Daly City, Calif., Haru Nomura shot a 1-under 71 in cool and breezy conditions at Lake Merced to maintain a three-stroke lead in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
The 23-year-old Japanese player had three birdies and two bogeys to reach 10-under 206 with one round left. She won the Australian Women's Open in February, pulling away to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko by three strokes for her first LPGA Tour title.
Ko was six strokes back at 4 under after a 73. The two-time defending champion will be 19 on Sunday.
South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace and South Korea's Na Yeon Choi were tied for second.
CHAMPIONS: At Ridgedale, Mo., Woody Austin and Michael Allen shot a 12-under 59 in better-ball play to take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge.
Austin and Allen played Buffalo Ridge's Springs Course after opening with a 5-under 49 on the par-3 Top of the Rock course.
Defending champions Billy Andrade and Joe Durant were a stroke back at 16 under along with the teams of David Frost-Roger Chapman and Kenny Perry-Scott Hoch. Frost and Chapman had a 61 at the Springs, while Andrade-Durant and Perry-Hoch each shot 46 at Top of the Rock.