LA QUINTA, Calif. — The temperature barely climbed into the 60s on a spectacular, clear afternoon in the desert after two rainy days. Adam Hadwin stopped counting at 59 — 13-under 59, that is.
The 29-year-old Canadian shot the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and the second in 10 days to take the third-round lead Saturday in the CareerBuilder Challenge.
"I think everybody talks about kind of they were in a zone and I think that’s kind of what happened," Hadwin said. "I was thinking about it. I knew exactly where I was. I knew exactly what I needed to do. It just didn’t seem to matter."
Hadwin made a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th and got up-and-down for par — making a 3-footer — from just off the green on the par-4 18th at La Quinta Country Club.
"Last thing I wanted to do was miss a 3-footer for 59," Hadwin said. "So, I was more relieved than anything walking off that green."
Justin Thomas had an 11-under 59 last week in Hawaii in the first round of his Sony Open victory. Hadwin matched David Duval’s tournament record, a 13-under 59 on the Arnold Palmer Private Course in the final round of his 1999 victory. Jim Furyk shot a tour-record 12-under 58 last year in the Travelers Championship.
Hadwin was at 17-under 199 after starting the day tied for 49th at 4 under, a stroke below the eventual cut. He played the first two days at PGA West, shooting 71 on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and 69 on the Stadium Course — the site of the final round Sunday.
"The Stadium Course is a much tougher course than La Quinta," Hadwin said. "It’s a Sunday. I got a chance to win a golf tournament. That’s what you want going into Sunday, and I’m excited about that. … They say one of hardest things in golf is to follow up a low round. I have to figure out a way to convince myself that I just shot 67."
The former Louisville player is the first Canadian — he was born in Moose Jaw, Sask., and grew up in Abbortsford, B.C. — to break 60 on the tour. He’s also the first to accomplish the feat on a par-72 course since Duval, and the only non-winner to break 60 on the tour.
"I think what gives sort of me the most confidence is that I knew exactly what I needed to do and through that whole process, if anything, I was thinking 58," Hadwin said. "So, to be able to do it when I needed to. I know I was nervous. The putt barely went in on 17, and I only had 6 feet."
Hadwin had 13 birdies in the bogey-free round, hit 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation, and needed only 21 putts. He opened with a par with the temperature in the low-50s and snow sparkling on the mountain peaks, birdied the next six and added another on No. 9 for a front-nine 29. He birdied Nos. 11-15 to get to 12 under.
Hadwin credited playing partner Colt Knost for keeping him relaxed.
"He’s a character and so everything was very light, Hadwin said.
Said Knost: "We have been talking all week. We always talk when we play. So, I kept just trying to make it the same way, have fun with it and just talk to him and treat it like it’s a normal round. He knew where he stood, yeah. He was kind of joking about it. He was just focused on what he was doing. He did a great job."
Rookie Dominic Bozzelli was a stroke back after a 69 on the Nicklaus layout.
"I’ve been riding a hot putter these last couple days," Bozzelli said.
Second-round leader Hudson Swafford was 15 under with Bud Cauley, Brian Harman and Chad Campbell.
David Hearn (68) of Brantford, Ont., was 7 under, while Nick Taylor (70), also of Abbotsford, was 6 under.
Swafford shot a 71 on the Stadium Course, making a double bogey after hitting left into the 18-foot deep bunker on the par-5 16th and dropping another shot on the par-3 17th after barely reaching the island green. Cauley (65), Campbell (66) and Harman (69) played at La Quinta.
Phil Mickelson closed with a watery double bogey for a 73 on the Stadium Course, leaving him eight strokes back in his return from two sports hernia surgeries. The 46-year-old Hall of Famer had surgery Oct. 19 and again Dec. 12. Caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay also is making a comeback after having both knees replaced.