Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Chris Stroud takes lead at Puerto Rico Open, but Andrew (Beef) Johnston is chasing


Michael Cohen

Chris Stroud is making his eighth start at the Puerto Rico Open, a fact that speaks to the 35-year-old’s doggedness on the PGA Tour but also his lack of a breakthrough victory. Come Sunday, he hopes to remedy this by winning his first tour title in his 277th career start.

Stroud takes a one-stroke lead over Bill Lunde and D.A. Points into the final round after shooting a five-under 67 at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The former Lamar All-American is playing the 2016-’17 on conditional status after finishing 134th on the FedEx Cup points list last season, the first time he failed to break into the top 125 since 2008.

It’s the third time in Stroud’s career that he leads or has a share of the lead entering the final round of a tour event. The previous two were at the 2013 CIMB Classic, where he finished T-3, and the 2014 Dean & Deluca Invitational, where he finished T-14.

Ten players sit within three strokes of Stroud. Among them is tour rookie Andrew (Beef) Johnston, the merry Englishman who earned acclaim last summer after winning a European Tour event and then having an impressive top-10 performance at the Open Championship. Johnston shot a bogey-free 66 on Saturday, tying the low round of the day, to finish the day two strokes back of Stroud. Thus far in Johnston’s rookie season, he has played in five events but finished no better than T-47 at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Also two back is local favorite Rafa Campos. The 28-year-old Puerto Rico native is playing the event on a sponsor’s exemption. The last time a player won a PGA Tour event playing on a sponsor’s exemption was Billy Hurley III at last summer’s Quicken Loans Invitational.