Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney wound up tied for the lead Saturday in the Wells Fargo Championship, minus the separation from the rest of the field in Charlotte, N.C.
Mickelson hit a shot out of bounds on the 15th hole and hit another shot that struck a spectator in the head, costing him 3 shots over the last four holes at Quail Hollow in his round of 1-over 73. Watney hit a semi-shank with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th, took double bogey and had to settle for a 71.
It felt like a small consolation that they were tied at 8-under 208, 1 shot ahead of George McNeill, who had his share of trouble down the stretch for a 72.
“I can’t remember the last time I did that in a tournament, so it was a bit unsettling” Watney said about his shank. “The big picture? I’m tied for the lead, and I would have taken that on Thursday morning.”
Instead of pulling away from the pack, their mistakes in a wild final hour allowed a dozen players to get within 3 shots of the lead.
One of them was Rory McIlroy, who shot 73 and missed seven putts from the 5-foot range or closer, which was no way to celebrate his 24th birthday. McIlroy ranked 82nd out of the 83 players who made the 36-hole cut in the key putting statistic, yet he still goes into the final round with a good chance for his first win of the year.
But it’s a crowded race.
John Senden completed his round of 67 some three hours before the leaders finished. Ryan Moore was right behind him with a 68. They were among six players who were tied for fourth, 2 shots behind. That group included Lee Westwood, who made two birdies and two bogeys in his otherwise boring round of 72.
Two-time champion Cristie Kerr shot a 5-under 66 to take a 2-stroke lead over second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen after the third round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va.
Kerr, the only two-time winner at the River Course, made six birdies to reach 10-under 203. She took command on a day when seven players shared the lead at one point or another, then faltered.
Lewis shot a 69, and Pettersen, the 2007 champion, had a 68. Angela Stanford was fourth after a 70, and Ilhee Lee was fifth after an all-over-the-place 69.
Ariya Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old Thai player who led after each of the first two rounds, had three bogeys and a birdie on her first four holes and fought a balky putter for a 73 that left her 5 shots back.
Gene Sauers chipped in for birdie on the par-4 17th a day after making a double bogey on the hole, and finished with a 6-under 66 to take a 2-stroke lead in the Insperity Championship in the Woodlands, Texas. Sauers, 50, had an 8-under 136 total at the Woodlands Country Club. First-round leader Mike Goodes was second after his second consecutive 69.
Brett Rumford of Australia shot a 3-under 69 to lead by 1 stroke after the third round of the China Open in Tianjin, China, while 16-year-old Dou Zecheng of China trailed by 10 strokes after a 72. Conditions were windy on the Binhai Lake Golf Club course as Rumford moved to 12 under, 1 stroke ahead of Mikko Ilonen (73).
Ernie Els shot a 4-under 68 to leave the South African star 1 stroke behind leader Daisuke Kataoka of Japan after three rounds of the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta, Indonesia. Kataoka had a 66 for a total of 11-under 205 at Royale Jakarta Golf Club.