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Fran Quinn leads by three shots at Hoag Classic

Fran Quinn leads by three shots at Hoag Classic
Fran Quinn hits his tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club on Saturday. (Steve Dykes / Getty Images)

There were lower scores posted Saturday, but Fran Quinn did enough to leave himself with a three-shot lead after the second round of the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Quinn shot a four-under-par 67, taking him to 11 under for the tournament and into the lead in the final round of a PGA Tour Champions event for the first time in his career.

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David McKenzie and David Toms are tied for second at eight under, while Kirk Triplett, Esteban Toledo and Austin Woody are in a three-way tie at seven under.

“I played exceptionally well again,” Quinn said. “Really had a lot of quality iron shots that I had balls inside 10, 15 feet all day. I made some, but I missed some, and I had a lot of chances.”

The wind continued to come and go, gusting between 10 to 15 mph. Quinn, who is going for his first career win in a Champions event, said that the tournament’s late tee times ensure that the players have to compete under the same conditions, and he has been able to take the good with the bad.

“Everybody’s missing some,” he said. “You can’t think you’re the only one, so it’s a situation where you’ve got to be patient.”

If a golfer remembers his misses more than the shots he made, Quinn should get a good night’s sleep. Through the first two days, he is tied for the fewest putts per round with an average of 26.

A number of players had success on the back nine. Jeff Maggert and Scott Verplank both shot six under on the back nine to start the day, rebounding from Friday performances that saw them finish over par.

Maggert provided the round of the tournament. Eagles on No. 10 and No. 15 helped him card an eight-under 63 to move to three under overall. Verplank shot a 64 and is five under.

“Holing it from the fairway, it’s all luck,” Maggert said of his eagle to begin the day. “It’s all luck, but it’s nice to start your round off that way, especially the way I finished yesterday. After five-putting the 18th green, I wasn’t in too great of a mood.”

Toms, who shot a second consecutive 67, also played the back nine well. The 2001 PGA champion had five birdies and no bogeys during that stretch, recovering from a front nine that saw him come away with one birdie and two bogeys.

“I knew I had some birdie holes on the back,” said Toms, who came into the tournament in third place in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. “I made a couple of long putts and that kind of got me going, and then I obviously finished well.”

Through the first two days of the tournament, Toms has seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine, which should give him confidence that he can stay in the running if he gets off to a good start Sunday. He will be in the final group with Quinn and McKenzie.

Toledo, who owns a house in Irvine, said that winning the Hoag Classic would mean a lot to him. He met his wife, Colleen, at the Newport Beach Country Club when she was a waitress. He said he told her the first time that he met her that she would be his wife, and they have now been together for 27 years.

“This one would mean a lot to me since I met my wife [at Newport Beach Country Club], all the members, [and] my daughter was born in Hoag Hospital,” Toledo said. “I mean, it doesn’t get better than that.

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“So a lot of pressure, but I’ve been there before. I’ve just got to go out there and just play well.”

The largest margin ever to be overcome on the final day to win in this event is five shots — by Hale Irwin (1998) and Jose Maria Canizares (2001). Steve Flesch and Scott McCarron are both within striking distance at six under.

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