LA QUINTA, Calif. — Last year, Scott Stallings left the Humana Challenge early after a funny conversation that probably made his aching ribs hurt even more.
“I played La Quinta for one round and I played with Carl Pettersson and, after nine holes, he said, ‘Either you’re going to withdraw or I’m going to withdraw. I can’t watch this anymore,’ " said Stallings, forced to withdraw after tearing cartilage around five ribs.
This year, Stallings is in position to run away with his third PGA Tour title after opening a five-stroke lead Saturday. He shot a 9-under 63 at PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus course to reach 22-under 194 after three days in perfect conditions in the Coachella Valley.
“I stayed aggressive," Stallings said. “Playing with John (Rollins) was a huge help. He’s a good guy and he was an easy guy to club off of. ... We made a lot of birdies the last couple days, and so we kind of fed off each other."
Stallings made two eagles, hitting a 6-iron to 8 feet on the par-5 13th early in the round and holing a 20-foot downhill putt on the par-5 eighth.
“I guess you can say it’s conservatively aggressive," Stallings said. “Like No. 8, I hit a really good drive and had 8-iron. But just because I had 8-iron to a par 5, I fired it in the middle of the green, had a 20-footer and was happy to make it."
Rollins had a 64 to move into a tie for second with Stewart Cink, Roberto Castro, Charles Howell III and Charley Hoffman.
“We had a good group and the mojo in the group has been positive," Rollins said. “It was great to see a lot of good shots, putts going in."
Cink had a 66 on the Nicklaus course to get into the final threesome with Stallings and Castro.
Also on Saturday:
Rose leads in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Justin Rose extended his lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship, shooting a 4-under 68 to take a two-shot lead over Jamie Donaldson and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Frost takes 2-stroke lead
KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — David Frost shot a 65 to hold a two-stroke lead on John Cook after the second round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. Kirk Triplett, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, was third, another two strokes back after a 68.