Loar takes lead at Louisiana Open

Edward Loar carded a 7-under 64 on Saturday to vault into first place at the Louisiana Open.

Loar finished three rounds at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club at 15-under-par 198, which is one stroke ahead of Troy Merritt following his 5-under 66 in the third round.

Morgan Hoffmann fired a sizzling 9-under 62 to jump up 29 spots in the standings and sit alone in third place at minus-13.

Jim Renner (64), Richard S. Johnson (64), Shane Bertsch (64) and Blayne Barber (65) shared fourth place at 12-under, while second-round leader Darron Stiles (71) is among six players a shot behind them in eighth.

Merritt started the day in third place and quickly made his move towards the top of the leaderboard by starting his third round with three straight birdies before a bogey at the fourth stopped the streak.

He recovered with back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth, however, to hit the turn at a total of 13-under following three consecutive pars starting at the seventh.

He then opened his inward nine with a birdie at the 10th and followed that with another birdie at the 12th to grab the top spot, but after parring the next three holes, he bogeyed the 16th to fall behind Loar.

"I saw we were getting run down pretty quickly so I knew there were a lot of birdies out there," Merritt said. "It's been kind of a logjam the last few days, and so the goal today was getting as many birdies as I could and hopefully separate myself a little bit from the field."

Loar, meanwhile, opened his third round with a birdie at the first and then poured in four straight birdies from the fourth.

He stumbled to a bogey at the 10th, but bounced back with birdies at the 12th and 14th to get within a stroke of Merritt for the lead.

Loar then closed his round with a birdie at the last, which coupled with Merritt's bogey at the 16th allowed him to capture the lead heading into the final round.

"You know on this tour you better stay aggressive and you better keep making birdies," said Loar. "The conditions were really good early on. I saw the flags were pretty limp and knew some guys were making birdies. I knew the opportunities were there and luckily I was able to capitalize on them."

Hoffmann started his spectacular round on the back nine and split a pair of birdies at the 11th and 13th around an eagle at the 12th to begin to make his way up the leaderboard.

His lone mistake of the day then came in the form of a bogey at the 15th, but he quickly got that stroke back with a birdie at the 16th.

After parring the next two holes, he hit the turn with back-to-back birdies at the first and second, and then added three straight birdies from the fourth before closing his round with three consecutive pars.

NOTES: Loar is seeking his second career win on the Web.com Tour. His lone victory came at the 2012 Panama Claro Championship ... Merritt also has one win on the Web.com Tour, but that was over three years ago at the 2009 Mexico Open ... Hoffmann's 9-under 62 was a career-low round ... Patrick Sheehan also carded a 9-under 62 on Saturday. He currently sits tied for eighth place at 11-under-par 202.