HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – While most of the pack was heading toward the plus side of par, Oglethorpe freshman Anthony Maccaglia was moving in the opposite direction.

The 18-year-old started Thursday’s third round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships with a three-shot advantage ahead of the field. By the time lunch rolled around the margin was six. When the Floridian signed his scorecard after 18 holes the leaderboard showed a seven-shot advantage and an 8-under-par 54-hole total.

After opening with a 4-under 68 on Tuesday, the Tampa native shot 71 in the second round. On Thursday he birdied Nos. 14 and 15 to get to 3-under, and then finished the day with a birdie on No. 18.

Moore: Oglethorpe’s Maccaglia holds lead
Moore: Layout differences show early
Moore: Maccaglia tied for first after day one
Moore: Transylvania looks to regroup
Moore: Ogelthorpe extends lead by one
• Day Two: Recap
• Day One: Recap
Leaderboard: Team | Individual

“[Thursday] I probably felt the most pressure I’ve felt, but I also played better today than I have,” said Maccaglia. “I didn’t think I could hit the ball better than I did on Tuesday. I made a couple of clutch par putts on the back nine and that always keeps a round going.”

Oglethorpe sophomore Hayden Jones played a third consecutive solid round and sits in second with 2010 medalist Tain Lee of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps seven shots back.

Maccaglia, Jones and Lee are the only players under par as the tournament heads to the final round on Friday.

“I’ve probably looked at the leaderboard maybe three times all week,” said Maccaglia, who has 15 birdies against just five bogeys this week. “I haven’t thought about any numbers all week, just playing it one shot at a time.”

Lee, who was runner-up last May, has been off the course for an extended period due to a wrist injury. The senior has clawed his way to rounds of 74, 70, and 71. Thursday’s round started with a double bogey on the par-4 tenth but finished with a three birdies on his inward nine. Friday will mark his final round of collegiate golf with Q-School on the horizon.

“It’s been a great four years and I have definitely accomplished more than I ever expected to coming into college,” Lee said.

Two players in Division III history have won two individual titles, with Methodist’s Chad Collins winning three.

Two players, La Verne’s Derek Zachman and Redlands’ Jeremy Sanders, are even par after three rounds. Zachman shot a 71 on Thursday and Sanders fired a 2-under 70.

Zachman started the week with a 76 but is 4-under over his last 36 holes.

Four players sit at 3-over, 12 shots out of the lead. Methodist’s Mike Duncan, after a pair of 75s, bounced back to shoot 69 in the third round.

As golf usually does it bit a few players a day after they thought they had figured it out.

Huntingdon’s Tomas Mitchell, who shot a tournament-best 67 on Wednesday, came back to score 78 on the same course a day later. Wittenberg’s David Wetterich shot 69 in the second round. He needed 76 shots on Thursday. Gustavus Adolphus’ Trevor Gervais shot 69 on day two. He turned in an 82 on day three.

Wittenberg’s Craig Osterbrock went the opposite direction. After opening with an 87 on Tuesday, he has shot rounds of 73 and 71 during the past two days.

The record for low round at a D-III Championships is 65 shot by a trio of players. That number might be what it will take to catch Maccaglia.