PUERTO PLATA, Dominican Republic—Trailing by four shots at the beginning of the day, American Brandon Matthews put on a furious start of eagle-birdie-birdie-par-birdie-birdie on his way to a third-round, 8-under 63 that took him to the top of the leaderboard at the Puerto Plata Open. The Temple University alum closed with a birdie at the last to move to 20-under, good for a four-shot advantage over 36-hole leader Alejandro Tosti of Argentina and fellow American Brendon Doyle. Tosti followed a pair of 63s with a 71, while Doyle carded a 68 Saturday.
“I felt really comfortable out there today, felt kind of in my element, really calm. It was a fun round of golf,” said Matthews, who turned in the lowest score of the day with a 63 that featured an eagle, seven birdies and only one bogey.
One of the longest hitters on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Matthews took advantage of his length off the tee at the 514-yard par-5 first. “I had a great (yardage) number into one, for the wind that was there and the number that I had, and I hit a perfect full pitching wedge that landed to about three feet,” he said of a stellar opening hole that he followed with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 before officials suspended play for 90 minutes due to inclement weather.
When play resumed, Matthews picked up right where he left off, making consecutive birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 to get to 6-under for the day and move past Tosti, whose lone birdie on the front came at the first. Tosti hit it in the water off the tee at the ninth for a costly double bogey that left him two behind Matthews, who made his only bogey of the day on that same hole.
The Argentine bounced back with consecutive birdies on 10 and 11 to move within one, but Matthews managed to extend the lead to two, with birdies on 10 and 12. With Tosti bogeying 14 and Matthews birdieing the last, the lead ballooned to four.
“Things can turn on any golf course, so you just have to stay focused. I knew that I could go out and shoot a good round like this today and even better. I’m looking forward to [Sunday], to keep the pedal down and hopefully shoot another one like this and just keep going,” said the 26-year old leader who is looking for his second career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica win. He also claimed the 2017 Molino Cañuelas Championship in Argentina.
Argentina’s Tano Goya shot 66 to move into a two-way tie for fourth, along with American Patrick Newcomb, who posted a 67 to trail by five. Leandro Marelli made it three Argentines inside the top 10 with a round of 68 that moved him into solo sixth, at 14-under.
Three other Americans–Conner Godsey, Jacob Bergeron and last Sunday’s Shell Open winner MJ Maguire—stand in a tie for seventh, at 13-under. Another stroke back, Juan Pablo Luna and Camilo Aguado of Colombia, Juan José Guerra of the Dominican Republic and Order of Merit No. 1 Alex Rocha of Brazil join American Scott Wolfes in a tie for 10th.
Did you know Brandon Mathews played college golf at Temple University? As an Owl player he set a school record with eight career wins, three of those in succession during the spring of 2015. Named an honorable mention All-American in 2014-15, Matthews also shared Temple’s Male Student Athlete of the Year honors with basketball player Will Cummings in 2015.