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Golf - Champ surges to four-stroke lead over Conners in Mississippi

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(Reuters) – Cameron Champ shot a PGA Tour career-low eight-under 64 to grab a four-stroke lead over Canadian Corey Conners in the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championships in Mississippi on Saturday.

Nine birdies against a lone bogey fuelled the sparkling round by the 23-year-old Tour rookie, who surged to 17-under 199 at the Country Club of Jackson.

“Today went great. I felt like I executed all the shots I wanted to,” said Champ, who is seeking his first PGA Tour victory.

Conners also shot 64 for a 203 total but the later-starting Champ, who shared the halfway lead on Friday, was too dominant, delivering birdies on four of his first five holes and adding four more on the back nine.

Swing tips from his coach overnight led to his strong round, said Champ, who has enjoyed at least a share of the lead the entire tournament with rounds of 65-70-64.

“It was something simple,” he said of the swing tips. “And the range session this morning went smoothly.

“I just took advantage of the par fives and made the putts when I needed to.”

His lone bogey came at the par-four sixth hole.

Conners also said a late fix had a big role in his round, which also included nine birdies and a bogey.

“Yesterday at the end of the round, I kind of found something with my grip, trying to feel the putter a little bit better,” he said.

“I was struggling the first two rounds and I was excited with what I found. I had a good warmup this morning and stuck with it all day and rolled it really well.”

D.J Trahan (67) and Shawn Stefani (68) were a stroke behind Conners at 12-under 204 with Briton Martin Laird and American Sam Burns both shooting 66 for 205.

Trahan, seeking his first tournament win in 10 years, had a three-shot turnaround in his last four holes, using a birdie at the 15th, an eagle at the 17th and a closing birdie to move into contention.

Second-round co-leader Norman Xiong went in the opposite direction.

The teenage former amateur champion faded to a 76 to go five-under after a double-bogey, bogey, bogey, double-bogey on his last four holes to go from even par to plus four for the round.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Wilson, North Carolina; editing by Ken Ferris)

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