After two difficult scoring days at the Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio was much more gettable on Saturday, which led to 15 rounds of four-under par or better from the field. The lowest of the bunch belonged to Trey Mullinax, who fired a course-record 10-under 62 to vault up the leaderboard, putting himself within one shot of co-leaders Andrew Landry and Zach Johnson.
Mullinax, 25, was 15 shots off the current lead after Thursday’s opening-round 74, which was a decent round on a day that didn’t feature many low numbers. The plan from there was a simple one, and helped him put together a 36-hole stretch of 14 under that has him at 12-under 204 for the tournament.
“We tried to just get better every day,” said Mullinax, adding, “Thursday, to be honest, it was a good two over. We grinded really hard, we fought, we knew that every shot counts. This is a hard golf course, the wind was blowing, so we went to the range and we tried to get some stuff going and yesterday I hit it a little bit better, got away with some loose shots, was able to save it with my short game.
“Today, I really hit it pretty well all day. Had some good up-and-downs, chipped a few in and made some putts.”
Seven back and facing a steep climb, Mullinax got right to work on Saturday, holing a 10-footer for birdie at the first, a 13-footer at the third and a 17-footer at the fourth. He then made five straight pars, turning in three-under 33, making 62 a pipe dream at best. But even with a bogey on the final nine, he carded a seven-under 29 that featured four birdies and two eagles, one a chip-in from 95 feet away at the par-5 14th and another at the closing hole from 16 feet. That all added up to the TPC San Antonio course record, previously owned by Matt Every, who carded a 63 in the first round of the 2012 Valero Texas Open.
Mullinax’s incredible round included just seven fairways hit and only 13 of 18 greens in regulation, but he needed just 22 putts to get around in 62. He ranks first in the field in strokes-gained/putting through 54 holes, and second in putts per green in regulation. He’s looking for his first win on the US PGA Tour in just his second full season. The former Alabama All-American does have one professional victory, which came at the 2016 Rex Hospital Open on theTour.
Leading the way at 13-under 204 are Landry and Johnson, the latter having posted a four-under 68 with four birdies on his final eight holes. Landry shot a second consecutive five-under 67, this one without a bogey. Both are in search of their first victory this season, but a win for Johnson would be his 13th on the PGA Tour, while a win for Landry would be his first.
Ryan Moore, who was without a bogey through 36 holes, made two on his opening nine for a two-over 38. But a strong back nine of four-under 32 gave him a two-under 70, keeping him in contention at 11-under 205. Moore is in solo fourth heading into Sunday.
Sean O’Hair, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk and Martin Laird are tied for fifth at nine-under 207.
Aaron Baddeley was the best of three Australians to make the cut. He shot four-under 68 to be T-17 at six-under 210, trailing the leaders by seven. Rod Pampling (73) is at one-under par and John Senden (76) is at four over.
Baddeley’s ball-striking in Texas is very encouraging. Through three rounds, he is second in strokes-gained/tee to green. He’s also hit 39 of 54 greens in regulation to rank T-5. But surprisingly for a player known as one of the best putters on tour, Baddeley is 66th in strokes-gaining/putting.