Martin Laird leads Jonathan Byrd by 1

Updated: October 24, 2010, 12:49 AM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Martin Laird has put together two great rounds at TPC Summerlin, following a second-round 62 with a 63. Now the Scot's trying to follow his breakthrough victory with a successful title defense.

Laird eagled the 310-yard, par-4 15th -- driving the green and holing an 8-foot putt -- and closed with three pars to take a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Byrd on Saturday in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

"I really left myself the easiest putt on the green," Laird said. "It was a right-edge, up-the-hill putt. That's the one most of us would want if we had 6 feet for eagle."

Last year, Laird won the event for his first PGA Tour title, beating George McNeill with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff. Chad Campbell was eliminated on the second extra hole.

"It's completely different because last year it was probably the best chance I've had to date to win a tournament and I was 134th or something on the money list," said Laird, 43rd on the money list this season. "So there was a lot more pressure on me last year than this year. It's definitely a little more relaxed week than last year, knowing that I've had a good year so far, and I don't have to worry about playing to keep my card."

Laird, a playoff loser to Matt Kuchar in The Barclays this year, had a 19-under 194 total on the rain-softened course in the fourth of five Fall Series events.

"It's been a good three days and, even after only shooting 2 under the first day, I was pretty confident that I could post three low ones in a row to get back in contention," Laird said. "I maybe didn't think I'd post 17 under the next two rounds, but I'm pleased obviously where I am and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"Any time you shoot 62 you've got to feel pretty good after it. I was just pleased to finally make some putts because I hit it just as good on Thursday as I did on Friday, just made nothing, so it was nice to see the ball go in the hole. I've started to get a little more comfortable with the speed of the greens as the week has gone on and putted nicely again today."

Byrd shot a 66. Australia's Cameron Percy had a career-best 62, making eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey, to join Webb Simpson (64) at 17 under. Simpson had 10 birdies and two bogeys.

"I was 1 over through five," Simpson said. "But I told myself to stay patient and I knew birdies would come. I knew I was playing well enough to make a lot of birdies, and they came.

"I birdied six through nine and then 11 through 13 and then 15 and 16. I don't know if I've ever had 10 birdies in a round out here on tour, but it felt good."

Percy, a 36-year-old rookie from Australia, is 185th on the money list with the final top 125 earning full status for next year.

Cameron Beckman (64) and Spencer Levin (66) were tied for fifth at 15 under.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE