Rookie McNeill takes charge in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, Oct 14 (Reuters) PGA Tour rookie George McNeill took control of the Las Vegas Open on Saturday, moving five shots clear by firing a five-under-par 67 in the third round.

Joint pacesetter overnight with fellow Americans Garrett Willis and D.J. Trahan, McNeill birdied four of the last eight holes to post an 18-under total of 197.

The 32-year-old from Florida claimed the outright lead for the first time with a tap-in birdie putt from three feet at the par-five ninth.

He picked up further shots at the 11th, 13th and 16th before stretching five ahead after hitting an exquisite approach from the right rough to within three feet of the flag at the last.

American Robert Garrigus, a Tour rookie last year, returned a 68 to climb into a tie for second at 13 under with Trahan (72).

Willis, bidding for his second PGA Tour title, briefly held the outright lead at 14 under after rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt at the seventh but stalled on the back nine before carding a 73.

That left him in a share of fourth spot at 12 under with compatriots Kent Jones (68), Bo van Pelt (68) and John Huston (72).

REUTERS SSC AS0927

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