Golf-Stallings charges five ahead at Challenge

American Scott Stallings, helped by a pair of eagles, surged five strokes clear of the field with a sizzling display of golf in the third round of the Humana Challenge on Saturday.

One shot off the pace overnight, Stallings fired a nine-under-par 63 on the Nicklaus Private course at PGA West, one of three venues hosting the tournament renowned for its low scoring in the California desert.

Bidding for a third victory on the PGA Tour, Stallings eagled the 13th and the eighth after starting out at the 10th to take command with a 22-under total of 194 in the pro-am celebrity event.

"I feel good," Stallings told reporters after scrambling well in a round that also included five birdies. "I played well. I stayed aggressive. I've been smart when I got out of position.

"Just because I played really good, doesn't mean that I've hit it perfect on every single hole. I scrambled a little bit."

Former British Open champion Stewart Cink, who has struggled for consistency over the past four years, carded a 66 on the Palmer layout to share second place with fellow American Roberto Castro (69), the co-leader overnight with James Hahn.

Also at 17 under with Cink and Castro after another ideal day for scoring with hardly a breath of wind in the sun-drenched Coachella Valley were Americans Charles Howell III (67), John Rollins (64) and Charley Hoffman (67).

BEST OF THE WEEK

Little-known American Brian Stuard was a further stroke back after shooting the best round of the week, a 62 on the Palmer course, putting him among a group including compatriot Kevin Streelman (66) and South Korean Bae Sang-moon (64).

Twice former champion Phil Mickelson flirted with the cut for much of the day but eventually made sure he would qualify for Sunday's final round as he completed a six-birdie 66 to go 11 under at 205.

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