Kuala Lumpur Defending champion Bo Van Pelt came achingly close to a miraculous 59 on Saturday as he shared the CIMB Classic lead with Robert Garrigus, while Tiger Woods’ charge fell apart on the back nine.
In a superb day of action Van Pelt, continuing the form that took him to victory in Perth last week, needed to birdie the last hole to claim a rare sub-60 round — but he double-bogeyed to close on 62.
Van Pelt’s three-day total of 16-under 197 put him level with overnight leader Garrigus heading into the final day, with Chris Kirk one shot back and Brendon de Jonge and Jbe Kruger two adrift on a tight leaderboard.
Woods had started promisingly with five birdies up to the turn but the wheels then came off with three bogeys and a double bogey, and he wound up with a 69 for 11-under 202 and a share of 10th.
Van Pelt, defending a title for the very first time, insisted he had no regrets about his last hole, where he overcooked his tee-shot, miscued into a greenside bunker, and three-putted.
“I wouldn’t do anything different,” he said. “Obviously it’s disappointing to finish with a double [bogey], but I look back on the 17-and-a-half holes I played, and hopefully that will carry over into tomorrow, not the last half.”
Woods was left to rue a wretched close at a steamy Mines Resort & Golf Club as he found water on the par-three 14th for double-bogey and dropped strokes on 12, 16 and 17, making the 14-time Major champion a long-shot for victory.
“I need to go out and shoot something really low like what Bo did today or something like that. That might not even do it,” Woods said.
“That’s the thing. I’ve put myself so far back that on this golf course it’s going to be hard to make up the shots.”
As marshalls struggled to control heaving galleries surrounding Woods, the 74-time PGA Tour winner got off like a shot with a 10-foot birdie on one and a six-footer on three to move to 11-under, two shots off the lead.
Further up the course, world number six Jason Dufner suggested it was about to be a low-scoring day with a hole-in-one on the 201-yard, par-three seventh, his first in a competitive round.
“It was a good shot with a little bit of luck,” Dufner said.
Round-two leader Garrigus started poorly with two bogeys, enabling Woods to catch him at the top of the board with his third birdie of the day on the par-four fifth.
As Woods rolled in birdies on six and eight, Van Pelt roared through the front nine to turn in 29, raising expectations he could finish below 60.
Three birdies in a row on 10, 11 and 12 gave last year’s winner Van Pelt the outright lead, and he gobbled up a short putt on the par-three 16th to move to 10-under for the day.
Van Pelt was motoring, but Woods’ momentum was halted when he sliced his tee-shot into rough on 12 and then bogeyed after missing a short downhill putt.
He recovered with a birdie on 13, found water on the par-three 14th for double-bogey five, and then hit back again with a birdie on 15 — before dropping shots again on 16 and 17.
However, all eyes were on Van Pelt and the American went close with a curling eagle putt on the 17th, before seeing his 59 hopes dashed in front of big crowds at the last green.
Garrigus finished with a 69, enough to give him a share of the lead and a clear chance for his first win at a PGA-sanctioned event since 2010.
CIMB Classic after Round 3
Scores after round three of the CIMB Classic, co-sanctioned by the US PGA and Asian Tour, at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club on Saturday (USA unless stated):
197 - Bo Van Pelt 70-65-62, Robert Garrigus 64-64-69
198 - Chris Kirk 69-66-63
199 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 66-64-69, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 68-65-66
200 - Brian Harman 64-70-66
201 - Nick Watney 71-65-65, Tom Gillis 65-70-66, Greg Chalmers (AUS) 66-66-69
202 - Ben Crane 68-66-68, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 65-72-65, Tiger Woods 66-67-69, Kevin Na 67-66-69, Jeff Overton 64-70-68
203 - Trevor Immelman (RSA) 72-63-68, Ricky Barnes 66-71-66, Bill Haas 70-65-68, Pat Perez 67-68-68
204 - J.B. Holmes 66-70-68, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 69-67-68, Martin Laird 68-67-69, John Senden (AUS) 72-66-66, Noh Seung-Yul (KOR) 71-66-67, Jason Dufner 68-72-64
205 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 72-65-68, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 71-66-68, Troy Matteson 63-69-73, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 70-70-65
206 - Johnson Wagner 70-69-67, Charlie Wi (KOR) 69-66-71, Sean O’Hair 69-72-65, Masanori Kobayashi (JPN) 69-71-66, John Huh 70-68-68
207 - Ryan Palmer 69-68-70, Bob Estes 69-68-70, Scott Piercy 75-68-64, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-69-68
208 - Jimmy Walker 69-68-71, Marc Leishman 75-67-66
210 - Cameron Tringale 71-69-70
211 - Kevin Stadler 67-68-76
212 - David Lipsky 68-73-71
213 - William McGirt 70-70-73, Kyle Stanley 69-70-74
214 - Danny Chia (MAS) 66-75-73
216 - Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 73-74-69
217 - Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 74-73-70, Scott Hend (AUS) 70-77-70