England’s Luke Donald fired a four-under-par 68 to move into contention on the third day of the Valero Texas Open during the weekend. Donald continued his recent uplift in form at TPC San Antonio with a clutch of birdies on the back nine as he finished two shots shy of leader Ricky Barnes.
The world number 68 had a tough start to 2016 and missed his first US Masters event since 2004, but he bounced back with a runner-up finish at the RBC Heritage last week and has continued his resurgence in Texas, where rounds of 69, 70 and 68 have helped him to a tie for third ahead of the final round.
Donald picked up several shots on the back nine with accurate iron play on day three, and he finished with a superb two-putt from 60 feet to close out a 68. It was a strong round for Europeans as former British Open champion Padraig Harrington also showcased some of his best golf for a 68, which leaves him four shots behind Barnes.
Barnes, who is chasing a maiden PGA Tour victory, enjoyed a quick start with birdies on the first, third and sixth holes before sandwiching a bogey with a further three birdies in four holes after the turn. A classy pitch and putt from within 100 yards saw him pick up another shot on the 17th but a scrappy six on the last left him just a shot ahead of Brendan Steele.
Steele had started the day at the front of the pack, but he struggled to find any momentum on the front nine. He eventually found birdies on 14 and 17, which was enough for a ten-under-par total and second place. Donald will start a shot further back alongside Texas specialist Charley Hoffman, who mixed four bogeys and four birdies for a 70.