FARMINGTON — Windy conditions in the afternoon made for a tough third round at the 50th San Juan Open golf tournament.
Las Vegas, Nev., native Nick Killpack shot his second-straight round of 5-under par 66 to take a one-shot lead into today's final round at San Juan Country Club.
Killpack took advantage of the calmer conditions in the morning to post a three-day total of 10-under 203.
Putting and solid iron play were the keys for the turnaround after Killpack opened with an even-par 71.
"In the first round, I putted terrible," he said. "My putting has just improved. My ball striking has been solid all week, and today it was really, really good. I go out tomorrow and hit it the way I did today, then I'll have a pretty good chance."
Killpack, a 2009 BYU graduate, has a one stroke advantage on Nick Mason, who played in the windier afternoon groupings. Mason matched the low-round of the day, along with Jim Knous, with a 6-under 65 to finish his third round at 9-under.
Mason said his putting was the key to getting into contention.
"I made all the short ones that I hadn't been making," said Mason, a Denver resident. "I had a chance to make nine birdies in a row and ended making seven in nine holes, so that was a good stretch. If you get it under the hole and make your short putts, then I think that a 65 is possible. It played hard, but you just have to stay positive. You know the guys played in good weather in the morning, but you can't worry about that."
Mason, who is playing in his seventh Open, said he's looking forward to being in the final pairing and coming out with his first victory at the event.
"I've been in the final group, I think, three time, and I'd like to win this more than anything with all the friends I've made here over the years watching," Mason said. "I think tomorrow in the morning that it will be nicer, and I'll have to shoot five or six under to have a chance."
Albuquerque professional Kent Jones entered the round with a one-shot lead, but slipped to third place after shooting 71.
Jones sits two shots behind Killpack at 8-under.
A group of five San Juan Open veterans sit between three and five shots back and will try to make a run at Killpack's lead and the tournament's $18,000 first-place check.
Two-time champion Ryan Hogue is three shots back at 7-under, along with Jake Yonan-Wise.
Zahkai Brown, who won last weekend's Navajo Trail Open in Durango, Colo., is four shots back at 6-under.
Clay Ogden, the 2010 champion, and 2013 runner-up Jesse Mueller sit five shots back at 5-under.
San Juan Country Club head pro Jeff Roth is seven shots back after shooting a round of 68 to get to 3-under for the tournament.
In total, 33 players made the cut, which was set at 3-over par 216.
Five players made the cut on the number, including four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III.
Marty Sanchez was the low amateur for the tournament after shooting 69 to finish at 2-over 215.
Sanchez was the lone amateur to make the cut.
The tournament will continue today with the final round for the professionals. Tee times begin at 8:30 a.m.