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J.B. Holmes stretches lead to five shots at Doral

J.B. Holmes has one of two hole-in-ones Saturday and maintains his lead at the WGC event at Doral

It was a wild start to the third round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Saturday, highlighted by two holes in one on the par-three fourth hole on the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral.

The excitement lasted until the final hole, as some players charged, some faltered and others rallied.

J.B. Holmes, who had one of those aces, overcame a shaky first 12 holes with four consecutive birdies and shot a two-under-par 70 to move to 11 under for the tournament.

That gave Holmes, who has led since the first round, a five-shot lead over Dustin Johnson, who had the other hole in one, and Bubba Watson. Ryan Moore, who began the day in second place, two shots behind Holmes, shot 74 and was fourth at five under.

Bill Haas had the best round of the day, a 65, and is tied with Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen at four under.

"It's just nice to make some putts," said Holmes of his birdie binge on the 14th through 17th holes while rain fell. "You want to make some birdies, but I definitely wasn't planning on making four. I was just trying to get one or just come in and make some pars because I did have the lead."

Johnson, who started the day six shots behind Holmes in sixth place, shot a three-under 69. Watson, who began the day in fourth place, shot 70 thanks to a hole-out for birdie from a greenside bunker on the 18th.

"I was just trying to hit one close to make an easy par," said Watson, who has finished second here twice in the last three years, "but for it to actually fall in, dinner is going to taste really good tonight."

Both Holmes and Johnson bogeyed the 18th after each player hit his tee shot into the trees along the right side of the hole and had to lay up well short of the green.

Johnson was one over for his round when he hit a seven-iron on the green of the 207-yard fourth hole and it rolled into the cup for an ace.

Two groups and 24 minutes after Johnson's ace, Holmes also knocked a seven-iron shot into the hole. He said it was his second ace in competition and, so far, the most meaningful.

"When you're at the top of the leaderboard and you can get a hole in one, that's awesome," said the laid-back Kentuckian.

The ace might not be an omen for Holmes to win his fourth career title. Only 24 players in the history of the PGA Tour have made a hole in one in a tournament and gone on to win. The last to do it was Steve Stricker in 2011 at the Memorial.

Among the other highlights and lowlights Saturday:

Adam Scott, who played so solidly Thursday and Friday to get to six under in his first tournament of 2015, had four bogeys in a five-hole stretch on the front nine and double-bogeyed the 18th to shoot 75 and fall into a tie for eighth.

Rory McIlroy, the world's top-ranked player, had four birdies and four bogeys to shoot 72 and remain at one under. Playing partner and fellow Palm Beach Gardens resident Brooks Koepka shot 73 despite a triple bogey on the par-five 10th hole after hitting his first two drives in the water.

swaters@tribpub.com

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