Troy Merritt piled up eight birdies against two bogeys to score plus-14 on Saturday and take a four-point lead entering the final round of the PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship in Truckee, Calif.
Merritt, who finished runner-up at the event in 2019, sits at plus-33 in the event's Modified Stableford scoring system that awards eight points for a double eagle, five points for an eagle and two points for a birdie. Players lose a point for a bogey and three points for anything higher.
Maverick McNealy (plus-10 on Saturday) and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (plus-11) are tied in second at plus-29 at Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Golf Course.
Robert Streb (plus-8) is alone in fourth at plus-28, with Joseph Bramlett (plus-9) and Richy Werenski (plus-9) tied in fifth at plus-26. South Africa's Branden Grace, who was tied for second place through two rounds, withdrew prior to Saturday's round after testing positive for COVID-19.
Merritt, 34, began the day in a tie for fifth, but he quickly made up ground. After back-to-back birdies to open his round, he added a third at No. 5, then two more at Nos. 8 and 9 to rebound from a bogey at No. 7.
On the back nine, Merritt birdied 12 and bogeyed 14 before back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17. His plus-14 score equaled the best round of the tournament thus far.
Last year, Merritt seized a two-point lead through 54 holes of the event but shot plus-7 in the final round, finishing at plus-44 and three strokes behind winner Collin Morikawa.
The Barracuda Championship is an alternate field event that is running concurrently with the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tenn.
--Field Level Media