FARMINGTON — After three rounds of play, two players have gained a little separation from the field at the San Juan Open.
Jesse Mueller fired the low round of the day -- a 6-under 65 -- to take a one-shot lead over second round leader Riley Arp on Saturday at San Juan Country Club.
Mueller sits at 13-under 200 after three days and said his consistency from the tee box was an important factor in getting the lead heading into the final round.
"I hit my driver in play all day," said Mueller, a native of Mesa, Ariz.
Mueller, the 2012 San Juan Open runner-up, has played well in the tournament in the past and is hoping to use those experiences to claim his first San Juan Open title.
"Just the more you play, you get a better feel for the course," he said. "Every time I play is in the memory bank somewhere."
Mueller knows another round in the 60s will be necessary to come out with the title. He said his putting will be the key.
"I started to really start putting well the second half of the day today," he said. "I've got a pretty good feel with the putter right now, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Arp shot 1-under 70 in the third round to finish a shot behind Mueller at 12-under 201.
The 2010 Colorado State University graduate said he played about as well as the previously two rounds, when he shot 65 and 66, but out-of-bounds drives on the first and third holes cost him in the third round.
"It was a 3-wood off of No. 1 and a driver off No. 3. That's four strokes and that's the difference from the last two days," said Arp, a resident of Fort Collins, Colo. "I came in playing the par 5s at 8-under and today played them at even par."
Despite a couple of wayward tee shots, Arp is confident another low round is in the cards for him today.
"Hopefully, I can put it together and then we'll see what happens," he said.
A trio of golfers are tied in third place at 10-under 203, three shots behind Mueller.
The group includes Jimmie Gunn, Jonathan Khan and Zenon Brown.
Brown, a college teammate of Arp's at Colorado State, thinks that the low round will be out there and putting will be the key for him to make up the three-shot deficit.
"If it's not windy, it will come down to making a lot of putts," Brown said. "With no wind, (we) will be hitting a lot of wedges, and I'll have to attack. If there's wind, the course will hold its own."
San Juan Country Club head professional Jeff Roth is in a tie for eighth at 8-under 205 after shooting 68 in the third round.
Clay Ogden, the 2010 champion, and 2009 champion Derek Tolan are tied for 10th at 7-under 206.
Ryan Dillon, the 2011 champion, is in a tie for 26th place at 1-under 212.
The field of 77 professionals was cut down to the top 29 players following the third round. The cut line was set at even-par 213.
Former champions Ryan Hogue and Scott Gates were among the 48 golfers to miss the cut.
Markus Garard finished the tournament as the low amateur after a three-round total of 8-over 221.
Garard shots rounds of even par 71 on Thursday and Saturday to bookend an 8-over round of 79 on Friday.
The San Juan Open concludes today with tee times starting at 9 a.m.
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.