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Fran Quinn opens 3-shot lead at Newport Beach

UPDATED: Sat., March 9, 2019, 5:52 p.m.

In this June 14, 2014 photo, Fran Quinn watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
In this June 14, 2014 photo, Fran Quinn watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Associated Press

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Fran Quinn birdied three of the final holes in breezy conditions Saturday for a 4-under 67 and a three-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Hoag Classic.

Tied for the first-round lead with Scott McCarron after a 64 in strong wind Friday, Quinn rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 14th with birdies on the par-5 15th, par-3 17th and par-5 18th at Newport Beach Country Club.

“It’s a difficult golf course right now,” Quinn said. “The greens are difficult, so just got to keep hitting greens and giving yourself opportunities. You know, you’re going to make some. Everybody’s missing some. You can’t think you’re the only one. So it’s a situation where you’ve got to be patient.”

The 53-year-old Massachusetts player had an 11-under 131 total. He’s winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the Web.com Tour and twice on the Asian Tour.

“I haven’t won yet, but I’ve got two thirds, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth. I’ve kind of been trending in the last two and a half years toward having an opportunity to win, and so I’m just happy that I’ve given myself this chance. Like I said, `Hey, I’m blessed to be playing out here.’ I love it. I love playing with all guys that they were my heroes growing up, and now they’re my friends. So I just enjoy that.”

David Toms and Australia’s David McKenzie were tied for second.

Toms had his second straight 67, also birdieing three of the last four.

“I struggled on the front getting anything going the first two days, but hung in there,” Toms said. “I knew I had some birdie holes on the back, and I made a couple of long putts and that kind of got me going.”

McKenzie shot 66.

“Made a couple putts and hit it on the grass, the short grass, so it made it a lot easier,” McKenzie said.

Kirk Triplett (65), Esteban Toledo (65) and Woody Austin (67) were 7 under. McCarron was another stroke back after a 72.

Newport Beach resident Fred Couples was 4 under after a 70.

Vijay Singh skipped his title defense to play in the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bernhard Langer is sidelined by an injury to his rib and stomach area.

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