Chesson Hadley birdied his final three holes Saturday to grab a 1-stroke lead at the Midwest Classic
Hadley, who secured his first career Web.com Tour win at the Rex Hospital Open in June, began the third round three strokes off the pace before firing an 8- under 63 at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. He is 15-under-par 198 through 54 holes.
"The putter felt really good today," said Hadley. "It was an awesome round today. I got off to a good start which is key for me."
Overnight leader Paul Claxton carded an up-and-down 67 and dropped into second place at 14-under 199. The 45-year-old had a double bogey, two bogeys, six birdies and an eagle during the third round.
Jamie Lovemark moved into third place at 13-under with a 65, while first-round co-leader Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped to solo fourth with a 68.
Five players, including BMW Charity Pro-Am winner Mark Anderson (66) are tied for fifth at 11-under.
Hadley turned in a bogey-free round on Saturday to emerge from a crowded pack atop the leaderboard.
The 26-year-old had three birdies -- at Nos. 3, 5 and 7 -- during an outward 32. Around the turn, he birdied again at the 10th to reach 11-under and grab a share of the lead with four others.
Hadley broke free and grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the 14th, but he was promptly caught by Claxton, who was finding his form after a shaky start.
Claxton opened with a double-bogey 6, but recovered with three birdies over his next four holes to stay in contention. He dropped off the pace with back- to-back bogeys from the 10th, but rallied again, starting with consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14.
An eagle at the par-5 15th allowed Claxton to pull even at the top with Hadley, who had just birdied the 16th.
Both players birdied their next hole, but the 18th proved decisive, as Claxton parred and Hadley birdied to take the outright lead.
"It's hard to follow up a good round with another, but I think if I go and put together another round with no bogeys again, I definitely think I'll be hard to beat. But it's easier said than done," Hadley said about Sunday's final round.
NOTES: Hadley finished second at the Mid-Atlantic Championship in June and tied for third at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in May ... Claxton is seeking his third Web.com Tour win and first since 2007. His two Web.com Tour victories came at the 2001 Louisiana Open and the 2007 Melwood Prince George's County Open ... He has made 107 career starts on the PGA Tour without a win ... Due to inclement weather Saturday morning, tee times were pushed back to 11:00 a.m. ET and players went off the first and 10th tees in threesomes.