Lanto Griffin made six back-nine birdies en route to a round of 7-under 65 on Saturday, grabbing a one-stroke lead through three rounds of the Houston Open.
Despite a closing bogey at the par-5 18th, Griffin sits at 11-under 205 entering the final round, one stroke ahead of Mark Hubbard, who shot 69 for the second straight day.
Cameron Tringale and Beau Hossler, who both shot 68, and 36-hole leader Peter Malnati -- who struggled to a 73 -- are tied for third at 9 under. Six others are tied for sixth place at 8 under.
Griffin's terrific third round came after a disastrous close to his second, which he finished Saturday morning after play was suspended Friday night due to darkness. On his five holes still to play in Round 2, he shot 4 over, bogeying 14 and 17 before double-bogeying 18 and falling six strokes back of the lead entering Round 3.
"It was just cold and windy this morning and (the 18th hole) played tough," Griffin told the Houston Chronicle. "I was frustrated and kind of (angry), but I turned it into a positive. It freed me up pretty good."
Indeed, Griffin wiped the slate clean and was razor sharp from there. He made three straight birdies beginning at No. 3. Then after a bogey at No. 9, he birdied six of the next eight holes, including four in a row starting at 12 and a 35-foot bunker shot that he holed at 17. An errant tee shot at 18 led to a bogey but didn't rob him of the lead.
"My game is the best it's ever been for sure," he told the Chronicle. "I'm playing really smart and my short game has improved a ton. That's always been my Achilles heel."
In his 33rd career event, Griffin is seeking his first career victory. The 31-year-old had just one top-20 career finish before September, but he is now on track for his fifth straight. He leads the PGA Tour with 89 total birdies this season.
Hubbard and Tringale joined Griffin in finishing the day strong. Hubbard birdied three straight from Nos. 15-17 after sandwiching bogeys around a birdie at the 13th.
Tringale was 1 over through 12 holes before ripping off five birdies in the last six, including four straight to close his round.
Hossler, who finished runner-up via playoff at the event in 2018, made five birdies and a lone bogey at the ninth.
Malnati, playing while awaiting a potential call to leave town for the birth of his first child, bogeyed three of his first five holes and two of his last three, to go with four birdies in the middle of his round.
--Field Level Media