SAN MARTIN -- With a host of players nipping at his heels, young Brooks Koepka held his easy gait in Saturday's third round of the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club.
Koepka, a former Florida State star, birdied three of his first four holes en route to a 4-under 67, upping his lead to two strokes in the first event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season.
With a 54-hole total of 15-under 198, Koepka stands to earn his tour card with a victory, along with an invitation to the Masters and a $900,000 check.
Not a bad haul, but first thing's first for the 23-year-old, who showed no signs of nerves in round three.
"Actually struck the ball well today," said Koepka, who is playing on a sponsor's exemption and leads the field with 21 birdies. "Felt like I was hitting it good, hitting all my lines. ... Obviously, I wasn't aggressive with the longer putts, but the short ones, they were going the center of the hole. That's always a big confidence boost."
He leads a mob of players who probably can't wait to get another crack at the welcoming CordeValle layout.
George McNeill and Jimmy Walker, who had 10 birdies Saturday, matched the tournament course record with 62s.
Jason Kokrak and McNeill, who birdied five of his last six holes, are both two shots off the lead. Looming three back is World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Vijay Singh, seeking his first win since 2008, along with Walker and Robert Garrigus.
Former Cal star Max Homa brought the local flavor. In his professional debut, he finished eagle-birdie to shoot a 5-under 66 and is only five back.
"Sometimes you got to dig deep," Homa said. "Joe, my caddie, said to stay patient at the start of the round. You never know. You could finish with four straight birdies out here."
Homa drained a dead-straight 25-foot putt for eagle on the reachable par-4 17th hole, which has been basically a piñata for the players.
Singh, 50, ignited his round, and the crowd, with a tap-in eagle on 17 in the next group after Homa's. He hit his drive behind the hole and watched the ball trickle down to inside 2 feet.
"The wind died a little bit, and it was a nice smooth driver and came out perfect," Singh, a 34-time tour winner, said of his drive on 17.
Stockton native Ricky Barnes roared into contention with a 7-under 64, with five birdies on the back nine. He's in a large group at 9-under 204 that includes Hideki Matsuyama and another Cal product, Charlie Wi. Ryo Ishikawa shot a 67 and is five off of the lead.
Homa won the Pac-12 and NCAA individual titles in May and helped the U.S. Walker Cup team to a victory over Great Britain & Ireland last month.
Homa, who felt he scored well despite struggling, really has nothing to lose Sunday.
"I did a really good job taking my 'struggle round' and putting myself in it," said Homa, who marveled about seeing golfing legends Davis Love III and Singh competing nearby. "From what I've seen on TV that's what these guys do. I think tomorrow if I come out and get off to a little better start, I can kind of work my way into the mix and maybe sneak a good number up there."
Koepka, who is playing in his first tour event, not counting playing in three majors, has four of his wins this year on the Challenge Tour, Europe's version of the Web.com Tour.
Does this one feel different?
"No. Feels the same," he said. "It's all about how much pressure you put on yourself. Obviously, I think there may be some people that don't think I can handle it on Sunday just for the fact that I've never been sitting in his position. Just got to take it as it comes and be relaxed about it.
"I'm pretty chill, so nothing really bothers me. Don't get too up or down."
The lead group entering the day got off to an epic start. Koepka, Kokrak and Garrigus were a combined 7 under over the first two holes.
Kokrak, who nearly had a double eagle on his 18th hole Friday, settling for a tap-in eagle on No. 9, worked his magic again on the par-4 first. He hit his approach past the pin from 130 yards, the ball spinning back several feet downhill and into the cup. Koepka and Garrigus then drained birdie putts. The good times kept rolling on No. 2 as the three all made birdie putts.