(Reuters) - Geoff Ogilvy birdied the final hole to open a three-point lead after the third round at the $3 million Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada on Saturday.
The Australian, mired in a slump and ranked 216th in the world, looked more like major championship caliber as he carded a five-under-par 67 worth 12 points in the Modified Stableford format.
He rolled in a three-foot putt at the par-five 18th to increase his total to 35 points with one round left at the Montreux course in the thin mountain air almost 6,000 feet above sea level.
American Nick Watney missed a six-foot birdie chance at the last to end the day equal second with compatriot Jason Allred on 32 points.
American John Mallinger was in fifth place, seven points behind after a round highlighted by hole-in-one at the par-three 11th.
Ogilvy and Watney are accustomed to spending the first week of August at the WGC event in Ohio, but are trying to make the most of an appearance at an event missing the PGA Tour’s biggest names.
Ogilvy, 37, has won seven times on Tour, including the 2006 U.S. Open and three WGC events, but has not triumphed since 2010.
His languid yet powerful swing has been razor sharp this week, and his formerly silky putting touch has returned.
Watney, 33, is a five-time winner who also has endured lean pickings this season, 124th on the tour’s points list.
Under the scoring system, points are awarded on each hole for being under par, with birdies earning a player two points and eagles five. A bogey costs a player one point, double bogeys and worse three points. No points are won or lost with par.
(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)