Panama City, Panama (SportsNetwork.com) - Hao Tong Li fired a 5-under 65 in Saturday's third round and he moved atop the leaderboard at the season-opening Panama Claro Championship.
Li ended 54 holes at 9-under-par 201. The China native topped the PGA Tour China money list in 2014 to earn his Web.com Tour card for 2015. This is his first career start on the Web.com Tour.
Second-round leader Harold Varner III tripped to a 1-over 71 and he slid into a share of second place at minus-8. He was joined there by Mathew Goggin, who carded an even-par 70 that included back-to-back double-bogeys that dropped him from the lead.
Martin Piller fired a 6-under 64, the low round of the day at Club de Golf de Panama, and he vaulted into a tie for fourth at 7-under 203. He stands alongside Henrik Norlander, who shot 68 on Saturday.
Shane Bertsch (66) and Oliver Goss (67) share sixth at minus-6.
Li moved to 6-under with birdies at the second and fourth. He tripped to a bogey at the par-3 eighth.
Around the turn, back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 moved Li to minus-7. He stumbled to another bogey at the 13th, but quickly erased that mistake with a birdie at 14th.
The 19-year-old was still one behind Varner at that point. Li jumped into the lead as he birdied 16 and 18 to close to out his round.
"I don't look at the leaderboards. We still have a lot of holes to play. I was just trying to play my game. I wasn't thinking about the leaders today," admitted Li.
Varner played the front nine in even-par with a birdie at the fourth and a bogey at the seventh to go with seven pars. He moved to 9-under with a birdie at No. 10. Varner tripped to bogeys at 12 and 13, but came right back with a birdie on the 14th.
However, Varner faltered to another bogey at 15 to dip to minus-8. He parred the final three holes to end there.
Goggin opened with five pars in a row before making three birdies in a 4-hole span from the sixth. That burst moved him into the lead at 11-under.
Trouble loomed though as he struggled to double-bogeys at 10 and 11 to tumble to minus-7. Goggin bounced back with a birdie at 12 before making bogey at 13. he dipped to 6-under when he bogeyed the 16th, but Goggin birdied the final two holes to gain a share of second place.
"That was so irritating. At worst, those should have been a couple of bogeys. One behind, one round to go," said Goggin.
NOTES: Li won three times on the PGA Tour China last season and had eight top-10 finishes in 12 starts ... Li started the season as the second-highest ranked Web.com Tour player at world No. 192, with only No. 173 Greg Chalmers higher than him in the rankings.