Affrunti in 2nd place heading into final round

Joe Affrunti owns a pair of second-place finishes during his Tour career and still is searching for his first victory.

But if the Crystal Lake native can continue to play the way he has during the first three days of the United Leasing Championships at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburg, Ind., his wait could be over.

Despite finishing Saturday’s third round with back-to-back bogeys, Affrunti enters Sunday only two shots off the lead. Affrunti will play in the final group with Billy Hurley III for the second straight day after shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday.

Hurley leads the field at 11 under, and Affrunti, who finished with seven birdies Saturday, will begin at 9 under, one shot ahead of Canadian Adam Hadwin.

“Obviously, you never want to bogey a couple of holes coming in, but those are two tough holes, the wind was up and I just didn’t end up getting up and down on those holes, but I still hit good shots and played solid today,” Affrunti said in a phone interview Saturday night.

“But the best thing is I still have [Sunday] to keep it going and make some more birdies.”

Affrunti strung together three straight birdies as part of a stretch when he birdied five of six holes. Affrunti was 12 under for the tournament at one point Saturday before struggling a bit down the stretch.

Affrunti, who will play in three straight PGA Tour events starting next week in the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, saw his putting come together during his run of solid play Saturday. Affrunti said he has felt his game coming around the past few weeks and that remaining patient has been the key to putting him in the position he finds himself heading into Sunday’s final round.

After registering a bogey on the 14th hole Saturday, Affrunti bounced back with a birdie to again draw even with Hurley, who was also 4 under during the third round. But Affrunti gave two shots back on 17 and 18 to fall behind Hurley by two shots.

Despite his finish, Affrunti still managed his best round of the tournament after carding a 70 and 69 on Thursday and Friday. Now, Affrunti knows with one more solid round, he can count the weekend as a success heading into a stretch of bigger events, including the John Deere Classic on July 11 through 14 in Silvis.

“Where I’m (in the tournament) now, it’s hit good shots, hit smart shots, go at pins when you’re comfortable and when you’re not, play for the middle of the green, get your par and get out of there,” Affrunti said.

“Obviously, a win would be great. No matter where you’re at, a win’s awesome, a win is what you’re looking for. So [Sunday], I’ll go out there and that’s pretty much what I’m going after.”

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