Jose Coceres must feel like he's in Fantasyland, and not just because the National Car Rental Classic is across the street from the Magic Kingdom.
He grew up in a two-room house in Argentina, sharing three beds with 10 brothers and sisters. He learned to play golf with branches and rocks, and worked as a caddie until he could find support for his professional career.
With an 8-under-par 64 on Saturday, matching the best score of the day, Coceres built a three-stroke lead over Davis Love III and was in prime position to win for the second time this year on the PGA Tour.
He also won in Hilton Head after a playoff that lasted until Monday.
"I'm very happy for playing very good today," said Coceres, who mixes Spanish with the few English words he knows. "Now, I start in the front. But tomorrow is a new day. My confidence is very good."
Despite the language barrier, Love said he and Coceres occasionally talked. The conversation on a blustery afternoon went something like this:
"Good shot, Jose."
"Good putt, Jose."
While 61 players in the field shot par or better, none was as efficient as Coceres. He missed only three greens and took 25 putts, a combination that works anywhere.
"He has a real good attitude," Love said. "And obviously, he's comfortable with the putter."
That anyone had a lead as large as three strokes was surprising, especially since six players claimed a share of the lead at one point on the Magnolia Course. But the Argentine took control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 10th hole, and never gave it back.
He finished with a birdie on the 18th, pointing to the cup with glee as it fell to put him at 19-under 197. Coceres will try to become the first foreign player to win at Disney World.
But he has plenty of work left.
Love had a poor round striking the ball and still managed a 67. Another stroke back going into today's final round (3 p.m., Ch. 7) was Vijay Singh, who birdied the first four holes on the back nine to get back into the picture.
Eleven players are within five strokes of the lead, including Tiger Woods.
The scoring was so low, and the names were so bunched, that Woods got to within three shots of the lead at one point and couldn't be found on the first two pages of the electronic leaderboard.
He finished with a birdie for a 67 that put him at 203.
"I've never seen a leader board like this where there is this many guys bunched together with a chance to win," Woods said.
He certainly won't rule himself out. A year ago, Woods cautioned people not to pay sole attention to the top of the leaderboard because someone from back in the pack was capable of a 62. That's just what Duffy Waldorf posted to win the tournament.
"Hopefully, I can do the same tomorrow," Woods said.
Love, who took advantage just about every time he managed to hit close, lost ground to Coceres with a three-putt bogey on No. 14, ending a streak of 71 holes at par or better dating to the 14th hole of the fourth round at Las Vegas.
Around the links
Bob Murphy shot a 6-under par 66 to grab a share of the lead in the Senior PGA's SBC Championship in San Antonio. Murphy and opening-round leader Gary McCord were at 10-under 134. Defending champion Doug Tewell, Bob Gilder and Bruce Fleisher were all one stroke back. Jim Thorpe shot 72 and was at 140.
Second-round leader Paul McGinley of Ireland played only two holes of his third round at the rain-plagued Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland, remaining at 13 under par. Brian Davis of England remained second at 11 under after two holes.