Charlotte, Jakarta: Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney each stumbled with the lead on Saturday, leaving the US duo tied atop the leaderboard after three rounds at the US PGA Wells Fargo Championship.
Mickelson took a double bogey at the par-5 15th and a bogey at 16 to hand Watney the lead, only to have Watney double bogey the par-3 17th and leave both even on eight-under 208 for 54 holes in the $6.7 million (Dh25 million) event at Quail Hollow.;
“I was grinding it out there even though I didn’t have my A game coming down the stretch,” said Mickelson, who fired a 73 while Watney settled for a 71.
“I played poorly coming down the stretch and I’m lucky to be tied for the lead.”
American George McNeill was third on 209 with England’s Lee Westwood and David Lynn, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, Australian John Senden and Americans Ryan Moore and Derek Ernst another stroke off the pace.
World number two Rory McIlroy fired a 73 on his 24th birthday to stand on 211 with Americans D.A. Points, Kevin Streelman, Brian Harman and Jason Kokrak.
“I don’t think I was necessarily scraping it around,” McIlroy said. “From tee to green it was actually OK, but when I got on the greens it was a problem. I just couldn’t hole anything.
“When you miss a few putts on these greens, you sort of lose confidence in your stroke and then it’s just sort of hard to commit fully to what you want to do. If I want to hole some putts tomorrow, I need to do a better job of that.”
McIlroy’s pals bought him a long-lasting portable phone battery while his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wosniacki, had some purchases of her own.
“Got me this new bracelet and a couple pairs of shoes, a bag, sent me a birthday cake, actually I got that in my room today, so all good,” he said.
“We were supposed to go for dinner and watch the [Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero] fight somewhere, but it might just be dinner and bed.”
Watney knows he and Mickelson allowed a host of rivals back within reach on Sunday, when the threat of storms has prompted organisers to play in threesomes off two tees early in the morning to try and complete the round.
In Jakarta, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger snatched a dramatic win at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters with a five-under-par 67, defeating Ernie Els of South Africa by one shot on Sunday.
Wiesberger won his second title in Asia after totalling a 15-under-par 273 at the $750,000 Asian Tour event.
Els, the reigning Open Championship winner, settled for second after scoring 68 while the overnight leader Daisuke Kataoka of Japan was third with a round of 70 to finish on 275.
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee was fourth after registering 69.
“I was struggling in the beginning after my birdie on one. But at the turn I got a bit of momentum going because I was confident with my ball-striking,” said Wiesberger.
Leading third-round scores (USA unless noted, par-72):
208 - Phil Mickelson 68-67-73, Nick Watney 67-70-71
209 - George McNeill 69-68-72
210 - John Senden (AUS) 70-73-67, Robert Karlsson (SWE) 69-72-69, David Lynn (ENG) 71-68-71, Lee Westwood (ENG) 70-68-72, Ryan Moore 67-75-68, Derek Ernst 67-71-72
211 - D.A. Points 71-69-71, Kevin Streelman 68-72-71, Brian Harman 70-70-71, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-71-73, Jason Kokrak 68-70-73
212 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 72-68-72, Rod Pampling (AUS) 69-69-74, Lucas Glover 68-71-73, Bo Van Pelt 74-70-68, D.H. Lee (KOR) 72-71-69