A fine birdie at the 15th helped YE Yang maintain his slender one-stroke lead at the Honda Classic after the Korean carded a solid third round of 70 in Florida.
Overnight leader Yang began in underwhelming fashion when he bogeyed the third at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens but hit his tee shot to within six feet at the 15th to repair the damage and remain seven under par, one stroke ahead of Jeff Overton and Jeff Klauk.
Overton also posted a 70, largely due to a triple-bogey seven at the 11th, while Klauk’s 67 contained four birdies against just one dropped shot.
Yang’s compatriot Charlie Wie fired an impressive 65 to climb to five-under alongside Brett Quigley and John Rollins, who shot 67 and 68 respectively. Mark Calcavecchia also produced a five-under 65 to join five other players within three of the leader.
Having dropped a shot at the par-five third, Yang steadied the ship in collecting 11 consecutive pars. With the pin towards the front of the 15th green bringing water into play, the 37-year-old just carried the hazard landed hit his tee shot to six feet and rolled in the putt for the birdie.
Overton, meanwhile, had a far more eventful day. Reaching the turn level after cancelling out a bogey with a birdie, the 26-year-old’s round was in danger of falling apart when he triple-bogeyed the 11th after finding the water twice.
But he battled back with three more birdies at the 13th, 16th and 18th where he landed an approach from just over 100 yards two feet from the pin.
The highlight of Klauk’s round was a chip in from just off the green on the 14th to offset a dropped shot on the 11th after the 31-year-old rookie had played the front nine in three-under.
Yang was satisfied with his effort despite being unable to improve on his overnight score as he chases a first PGA Tour victory.
“It’s very hard to get birdies out here, it’s probably easier to get bogeys,” said the world number 460.
“I shot even par today and I’m happy with that. First day I wasn’t putting well and my irons weren’t great but I felt a lot more comfortable, I was putting better and saving pars.”
Overton felt he relaxed after his triple-bogey at the 11th, which helped him to claw his way back into contention.
“It was interesting. I felt like I played one really bad shot, I was right between clubs. I should’ve hit a nine iron instead of a pitching wedge,” he said.
“I tweaked my putting stroke a little bit and I got a lot of confidence towards the end of the round and it carried over to ball striking.
“I felt a little bit tight at the beginning of the round because I was right there in the thick of things but I hung in there and after that triple I loosened up and dug deep.”
Veteran Calcavecchia, meanwhile, is bidding for his third Honda Classic having previously won the tournament in 1987 and 1998.
“I played great today, I hit a few loose shots in the middle of the round but after that I settled down. Those last four holes are scary, it’s a tough finish but I’m happy with the round,” said the 48-year-old.
“I actually practiced a little bit for a change and made a couple of drastic changes. At the beginning of the year it was tough, I wasn’t putting well but I started hitting it better and making some putts.
“If I can keep my ball dry, I’ll have a good chance.”