FARMINGTON — Moving day at the San Juan Open saw a small shuffle near the top of the leaderboard, but Jim Knous remained ahead of the field after posting a 4-under 67 today at the San Juan Country Club.
Knous, who has led the pack each day of the tourney, will take a three-shot advantage into the third round. With the 67, he now sits at 16-under-par and holds a two-shot lead over Ryan Dillon heading into Sunday’s final round.
"You really just have to keep going and keep making birdies because anyone can shoot mid-to-low 60s out here, no problem," said Knous, the tourney’s defending champion. "There are great players out here, so I’m not going to let up at all."
Knous said he entered today’s round with the mindset to not only protect his lead, but, if possible, to extend it.
He had a good chance to do just that. Teeing off in the morning wave of players, Knous made the turn at 2-under and carded back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. But the rest of the way, Knous wasn't able to create any more space between himself and the field, finishing the final five holes even.
"I made a good putt on 12 and 13, then I was in the fairway on 14 and didn’t birdie, and hit a great shot on 15 and had a three-putt. It’s just frustrating," he said. "It’s still a great round, but frustrating at the same time."
Dillon started his day on the back nine, where he shot 5-under. He got to 7-under in the round before making a couple of bogeys during the final holes to finish the day with a 5-under 66.
"I played solid today," he said. "The wind picked up in the afternoon, but I got off to a good start. It played tough coming in because the wind picked up. Pars weren’t bad, especially on that side."
The low round of the day belonged to Sam Saunders, who fired a 6-under 65 and is tied for third with Riley Arp at 9-under.
"The course was soft and perfect this morning when I played, and I hit it really well," Saunders said. "I hadn’t made too many putts the last few days and finally found something on the green (Friday) after I played and carried it over to today and made some putts today.”
Saunders said he realized he was placing the ball too far forward in his putting stance, and that quick adjustment was the difference in today’s round.
While Saunders figured out his putting, Arp continued struggling to find a rhythm on the green.
"I’m having trouble matching line with speed. I’m either hitting my line and giving it too much speed, or I’m picking the wrong line and not giving it enough speed. It’s just a struggle matching the line and speed," Arp said. "It’s been like this the last three days. I can’t get into a groove. I’ve shot three 3-unders and was looking at 6- or 7-under, but I just can’t get there.”
Knous, Dillon and Saunders will make up the final group for Sunday’s round. They’re scheduled to tee off at 9:54 a.m.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.