The birdies just keep coming for Matt Harmon.
The former Michigan State All-American from Grand Rapids had six more while shooting a 66 during Saturday’s third round of the NGA Hooters Tour Buffalo Run Casino Classic.
“My putting was average today, but I thought I hit the ball nicer today than yesterday,” Harmon said. “I left a few chances out there but I also got a couple lucky breaks.”
His 22-under par score of 194 — he had a 62 on Friday — gives him a six-shot lead over Kyle Ellis of Senatobia, Miss., heading into today’s final round at Peoria Ridge Golf Course.
Ellis is at 16-under 200 and former Tulsan Will Dodson, a two-time All-American at SMU, holds down third place with a 14-under 202.
Four players — Adam Swope of Wesley Chapel, Fla., Daniel Wax of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Scott Feaster of Columbia, S.C., and Parker LaBarge of St. Louis are tied for fourth at 13-under 203.
Defending champ Ted Potter is in a six-way logjam at 11-under 205. He’s had rounds of 69, 67 and 69.
Jeff Corr, the 2008 BRCC champion, is in a tie for 28th at 9-under 207.
Harmon, Ellis and Dodson are paired in today’s final threesome, teeing off at 9:18 a.m. from No. 1.
Harmon has had 20 birdies and an eagle — with no bogeys — over 54 holes.
“I’ve been hitting the fairways and when you hit the fairways, you can figure out where the straight uphill putt is, then really attack the spot,” said Harmon, a former Big Ten Conference player of the year. “Fortunately, I have been putting myself in a lot of those areas. I haven’t had too tricky putts and have made a few.”
A key hole for Harmon was No. 3, where he hit a poor wedge shot but made about a 12-foot putt for par.
“That kept me going,” he said. “I got a lucky break on No. 8 and was able to get up and down for a birdie instead of possibly making six or seven.”
A win here would be Harmon’s second of the season and the fourth of his three-year NGA Hooters Tour career.
“Matt’s a good player and he had the big lead, so I just wanted to go out and play my game,” Ellis said. “I was able to make it around again with no bogeys (for the third straight day).”
He had six birdies, four over the final nine holes, and had a chance at an eagle on No. 10, but left a putt short.
“I wish I could have knocked that one in, but there is still a lot of golf left,” Ellis said.
Dodson, who helped Jenks win four straight 6A state titles, had six birdies but bogeyed No. 12.
“I played a pretty good round today,” said Dodson, who had started the day in a tie for fifth. “On this course, your line of thinking with the way these scores are, you are really trying to make birdie on every hole. You have to be aggressive from the time you tee it up until the time you finish.
“You have to have the foot on the gas pedal all the time.”
LaBarge had been in second place but slipped into the tie for fourth after shooting a 2-under 70 on Saturday.
“When you have a five-shot lead going into the day and then shoot a 66, that’s tough to gain any ground,” he said. “We’ll just have to try and shoot a low round tomorrow.
“At any other tournament this (score) would be great, but for some reason out here, everyone seems to go real low.”
The first two days of the tournament, players had to cope with high winds.
They weren’t quite as bad Saturday.
“It was a little less windy, but it was still a factor because it was up and then it was down, it was up and it was down,” Harmon said. “It was a little inconsistent. The last couple of days, it had been blowing hard and you knew what was coming. But today it was just a little inconsistent and caused some problems.
“Your approach shots, with the way the wind was blowing, made it very difficult to get the ball close.”