By David Brandt/The Associated Press
MADISON, Miss. — Scott Stallings trudged back to the clubhouse after making par on the 10th hole, his third round suspended because of the darkness that enveloped Annandale Golf Club.
It almost felt as if the course was trying to hide from him.
Stallings shot a blazing 6 under through the first 10 holes of the third round on Saturday at the True South Classic, and will have a four-stroke lead when play resumes on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. ET.
It’s a terrific opportunity for the 27-year-old, who has struggled for much of the season because of rib and back injuries.
“We’ve got a lot of golf (remaining),” Stallings said. “I’m just happy to be playing. All the birdies and stuff are great, but at the end of the day, just to be out here and be competitive — that’s all I’m really focused on.”
Stallings made four birdies and an eagle before the air horns sounded just past 8 p.m. CT. He’s at 18 under for the tournament and trying for his second career PGA Tour victory.
Second-round leader Billy Horschel, Heath Slocum and Jason Bohn are tied for second place at 14 under.
The tournament has been plagued by heavy rain, with one weather-related delay during each of the first three days, including a 3½-hour setback on Saturday. Only a handful of players finished their third round, including William McGirt, who shot an 8-under 64 and was five strokes back.
Stallings started his round one shot behind Horschel, but vaulted into the lead after an impressive birdie, birdie, eagle run on the third, fourth and fifth holes. He also made birdie on No. 7 and 8.
Stallings’ scorching run through Annandale was a reminder how good he can be. He won the Greenbrier Classic last year in his rookie season and finished 41st on the money list by winning nearly $2 million.
But he hasn’t had the same success in 2012, making the cut in just five of 18 events before Annandale. Stallings said that’s mainly due to a rash of injuries, including torn cartilage in his ribs and two herniated disks in his lower back. He tried to play through the pain, but the results were mediocre.
Now he’s healthy, and he’ll be the man to beat on Sunday.
“Let the outcome fall where it may,” Stalling said. “I’m just happy to be playing … I’m just happy to get up in the morning and do what I love.”
It was another perfect day for low scoring at Annandale, thanks to the soft fairways and greens. There was also very little wind, allowing players to fire straight at the pin without fear.
Birdies were needed in bunches to stay near the top of the leaderboard. McGirt and Tommy Gainey were the big gainers on Saturday, and also among the few players who played a complete third round.
Gainey has played well at Annandale in the past, and shot a 6-under 66 to stay on the edge of contention at 12 under. But he was upset about a few bad shots in the final few holes.
“I had a few stupid mistakes, but I still shot a 6 under, so I know I can go low tomorrow if I play well,” Gainey said. “You’ve got to shoot 3 or 4 under (par) just to make sure you don’t lose ground. You’ve got to make birdies.”
Horschel entered the third round with a one-stroke lead after shooting 63 on Friday.
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