Australia’s Curtis Luck carded a bogey-free, 3-under 68 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at 11-under 202. Cameron Young sits alone in second, one stroke off the pace at 10-under 203.
Luck, who began the day one stroke clear of the field, tallied back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 to reach 10-under for the week. After pars on Nos. 8 and 9, Luck headed to the back nine at the top of a crowded leaderboard.
Luck stayed in control of the round carding six consecutive pars to begin the back nine. On the par-4 16th, the Australian stuck his approach and drained his birdie putt to claim the solo-lead at 11-under. He closed his round with two pars to take the 54-hole lead into Sunday’s final round.
“I think that the strategy for me was limit the bogeys and I went bogey‑free, so I’m pretty stoked about that,” Luck said. “I just tried to play really smart. Once again, like the first two days, if I was slightly out of position, just get it back in position as best I can and hit good shots to recover.”
Luck is making his 44th Korn Ferry Tour start this week and fourth appearance at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. In 2018, the 24-year-old finished T5 in Ohio, matching his best finish on the Korn Ferry Tour. That season, he went on to earn his PGA TOUR card through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
“I’m yet to sort of remember having a bad round in the final round here,” Luck said of his experience at the Scarlet Course. “So yeah, no doubt in my mind it’s a huge advantage being here the fourth year and also putting in good results each and every year being back.”
Luck and Young played together in Saturday’s third round but it was far from the duo’s first time competing together. The two played junior golf growing up and competed against one another several times. In 2016, Luck defeated Young in the Round of 16 en route to winning the US Amateur title.
The two will be paired together again during Sunday’s final round.
“I’ve known Cameron since I think I was 18 and we’ve always got along really well,” Luck said. “Out on Tour a couple weeks ago, I didn’t actually realise he was out here because I skipped Nebraska (Pinnacle Bank Championship), so it was great to see him here and playing good.”
Young began the day with four consecutive pars before carding his first birdie of the round at the par-3 fifth. After pars on Nos. 6-8, he went on to add another birdie on No. 9 to make the turn at 9-under. The 23-year-old tallied his third birdie of the round at the par-5 12th but immediately gave the stroke back on No. 13. After a par on No. 14, he tallied his fourth birdie of the round on the par-4 15th to reach 10-under for the week and claim solo-second.
Three weeks ago, Young made his Korn Ferry Tour debut at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aeta and finished the week T11. A week later, the Wake Forest University product continued his strong play, finishing T14 at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz. Last week, Young played in the final group at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco and finished the week T6.
Now, Young will look to capture his first Korn Ferry Tour title as he plays in Sunday’s final group for the second week in a row.
“Yeah, it’s been exciting. Obviously, I had no idea I was going to be here a month ago,” Young said of his recent play. “It’s been a lot of fun. To see a lot of it firsthand and be a part of it and compete, especially to do well, has been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Erik Barnes sits alone in third at 9-under 204. Will Zalatoris and Jimmy Stanger sit T4 at 8-under 205, three strokes off the lead.