Troy Merritt made two late birdies Saturday to take a four-point lead into the final round of the Barracuda Championship, a year after he lost the final-round lead in the PGA Tour's lone modified Stableford scoring event.
As per the format, Players get 8 points for an albatross, 5 for an eagle, 2 for a birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
Last year, Merritt seized a two-point lead through 54 holes of the event but shot plus-7 in the final round, finishing at plus-44 and three strokes behind victor Collin Morikawa.
The 32-year-old South African was in a share of second at the PGA Tour event in Nevada but withdrew ahead of the third round and will now go into isolation for 10 days.
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On the back nine, Merritt birdied 12 and bogeyed 14 before back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.
"I'm trying to think if I've ever been to one and I don't think I have", he said. It made me a little uncomfortable and unsure of what clubs to play. "For me, the most encouraging thing is that my game has been solid all week. But I do feel that if I put in the work, I'm going to have success". "But all in all, I'm really excited and optimistic and, if my putter keeps going the way it's going, I'll have a chance".
Matthias Schwab (20 points), Robert Streb (20) and Branden Grace (20) are tied for second. He will also skip next week's PGA Championship.
Grace will no longer play in next week's PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
"I wanted to get tested out of respect for my peers and everyone involved with the tournament", Grace said in a statement to the tour. "Last night, I was exhausted and thought it had to do with the altitude".
A top-two finish here will earn Merritt a spot in the 2020 US Open and he is already in the field for next week's 2020 PGA Championship.