CROMWELL, Conn. -- If his last three-shot, 54-hole lead serves as a precursor, Daniel Berger has much to look forward to at the Travelers Championship on Sunday.
The 23-year-old reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year led by three through 54 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, which he went on to win for his first victory on tour.
After sinking nine birdies for a career-low 8-under-par 62 and seizing a three-shot lead at 15-under 195 in Saturday's third round, Berger finds himself in a familiar spot.
"It'll be a lot easier stepping up on the tee box having a PGA Tour win under my belt than if I didn't," said Berger, who made three straight birdies from Nos. 11-13 and seven on nine holes on the 6,841-yard TPC River Highlands course.
Berger's lone blemish was a bogey on No. 4. He even had a look at a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18, which would have put him one off the course record.
"It was just a great day," Berger said, "and I feel like the group really got off to a hot start on the back nine, and we just kind of carried it into the last hole."
Berger's threesome included South Africa's Tyrone van Aswegen (65) and Russell Henley (65), who along with Scotland's Russell Knox (64) are three shots behind and tied for second.
Patrick Rodgers (66) sits five back in solo fifth and is the last of five players in double digits under par.
Australia's Marc Leishman (71) dropped nine shots back after sharing the 36-hole lead with Berger, van Aswegen and Henley.
Leishman, the 2012 Travelers winner, headlines a seven-way tie for 15th with Ireland's Padraig Harrington (65) and Spain's Jon Rahm (69).
Brooks Koepka (64) and England's Paul Casey (66) are six shots back and tied for sixth.
Berger, No. 40 in the world, is playing in only his second event after being sidelined with a strained shoulder.
Berger withdrew from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational after sustaining the injury on his opening tee shot, and was forced to miss The Open Championship. He returned at last week's PGA Championship, tying for 73rd.
"Doesn't hurt -- zero pain on the golf course," Berger said. "Tonight it'll definitely be sore, and I'll ice and get some treatment."
That missed time might prove costly in his chase for a spot in the Ryder Cup. Berger currently ranks 18th in the American standings, with the top eight being guaranteed a spot.
"My dad played in the Davis Cup, which is tennis' equivalent of the Ryder Cup, so I think that would be pretty cool to have father and son play Davis Cup and Ryder Cup," Berger said.
Bubba Watson, the defending and two-time Travelers champion, shot a 68 to put himself 10 off the lead in a tie for 22nd.
"It's one of those weird days where I didn't hit bad shots, it's just a couple bogeys popped up here and there," said Watson, whose six birdies were nearly canceled out by five bogeys.
The sixth-ranked Watson, who flies to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after Sunday's final round to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics, is tied with one of his fellow American Olypians, Patrick Reed (68).
Another, Matt Kuchar (71) is in seven-way tie for 49th and trails Berger by 12 shots.
The final American golfer at the Olympics, world No. 7 Rickie Fowler, did not play in the Travelers and was in Rio for Friday's opening ceremonies.
Former world No. 1 Vijay Singh of Fiji (71) began the day in a tie for ninth, but fell 11 shots back and is tied for 33rd.
Hunter Mahan, whose playoff victory at the 2007 Travelers marked the first of his six PGA Tour wins, ended with back-to-back double bogeys for a 76 to stumble to 5-over-215. Mahan ranks last among the 73 who made the 1-under cut.
NOTES: Saturday's tee times were moved up to 7-9:12 a.m. because of afternoon thunderstorms. ... Brooks Koepka (torn ligament in right ankle) had his ankle taped and was wearing a brace, but said he's feeling "better and better" every day. ... Ernie Els of South Africa made a hole-in-one on the 176-yard, par-3 No. 16 hole. It was the second of the tournament after South Korean Si Woo Kim's ace on the 215-yard, par-3 No. 5 on Thursday. ... Four players were tied for the 36-hole lead, the most at the Travelers since an eight-way tie in 2001. The 36-hole leading score of 7-under 133 was the highest at the event since 1992 (134). ... Andrew Loupe (76 on Friday) became the first player to miss the cut after holding a first-round lead since Keegan Bradley (2016 Valspar Championship).