Barnes looks for solid Sunday
Tour vet chasing first title, leads by one shot
SAN ANTONIO — Ricky Barnes shot a 5-under 67 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 careerbest 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 seven-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 am) obviously making more putts.”
Patrick Reed was fifth at 8 under after a 70. He was born in San Antonio. Billy Horschel (67) and threetime major winner Padraig Harrington (68) were 7 under along with Chad Collins (67), Jon Curran (71), Martin Piller (71) and Nick Taylor (66) of Abbotsford, B.C.
David Hearn (67) of Brantford, Ont., was six strokes back.
Horschel hasn’t won since the 2014 Tour Championship, and Harrington has one PGA Tour win — last year in the Honda Classic — since his claimed his third major at the 2008 PGA Championship.
“I think if I’m in command of my game,” Horschel said, “it doesn’t matter where I am. I can get the job done. I’ve figured out something in my swing.”
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.”
Second-round leader Brendan Steele shot 72 Saturday and sits one back.