Ricardo Gonzalez fires course-record 63 to take Galleri Classic lead

Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina rocketed up the leaderboard with a course-record 9-under 63 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead at the Galleri Classic in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Seeking his second win of the season, Gonzalez rebounded from a first-round 70 and moved up 25 spots on the leaderboard, one shot ahead of South Africa’s Retief Goosen and New Zealand’s Steven Alker, who both fired 68s on Saturday.

“I play, I think, one of my best rounds on the tour, and so happy to make a record,” Gonzalez said. “Play with two great men like Vijay (Singh) and Stephen Ames and enjoy. Enjoy the key to make under par.”

Gonzalez sank 10 birdies — five on the front nine, five on the back nine — and overcame a bogey on the par-3 eighth hole.

“It’s a great round,” Goosen said about Gonzalez. “Ricardo, I’ve known him for a long time, since the ’90s playing golf together in Europe. He’s always been a good ball-striker and putting was always a little suspect, but he seemed to find his game and find his comfort out here. He’s playing really good golf.”

Goosen and Alker were among a trio tied for first after Friday’s round. On Saturday, Goosen had three bogeys on the front nine, including two straight on the eighth and ninth holes. He did sink seven birdies, including four of his last five holes, to finish strong.

“For me today, it was a little up and down, especially on the front nine, and then on the back nine for a change, I got it going,’ Goosen said. “It was nice to have a good finish and be in the final group again for tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Alker sank five birdies but ran into trouble on the par-3 17th and bogeyed the hole before a birdie to close his round.

“I haven’t had one of those for a while,” Alker said about the 17th hole. “I think it was like 400 degrees, like finished over here somewhere. I hit a good putt. You can’t beat yourself up for hitting a good putt and not going in.”

Defending champion David Toms shot 67 and is tied for fourth at two shots back with Alex Cejka of Germany, who was tied for the lead after the first round but finished at 70 on Saturday.

Three players, including Steve Stricker (69 on Saturday) are tied for sixth, four strokes off the lead.