Miami (AFP) – Australia’s Jason Day, seeking his 12th career US PGA title and secoind of the year, fired a four-under par 67 to grab a two-shot lead after Saturday’s third round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Day, who captured his lone major crown at the 2015 PGA Championship, stood on 10-under 203 after 54 holes at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On the same course where he contended before faltering late in last year’s PGA Championship, the 30-year-old Aussie will play in the final duo with American Nick Watney, who shot 66 to stand on 205 in quest of his first US PGA title in six years.
“If I can hit a lot more greens and get the proxmitiy closer, I feel like I could, not run away from it, but do prettty well if I can make the putts,” Day said.
England’s Paul Casey was in a pack sharing third on 206 that included Americans Aaron Wise, Bryson DeChambeau and Peter Uihlein, whose 62 Saturday was one off Rory McIlroy’s course record.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson fired a 64 to stand 10th on 208, one stroke behind South African Charl Schwartzel and Americans Johnson Wagner and Sam Saunders.
Day, whose wife is expecting their third child in November, earlier this year won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, making a birdie on the sixth playoff hole for his first PGA crown since the 2016 Players Championship.
“This is exciting times for us,” Day said.
Day took his lone bogey at the par-4 fifth when he found a fairway bunker off the tee and came up short of the green. But he responded with a birdie at the ninth after dropping his approach inches from the cup.
Day hit a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th, a 14-footer for birdie at 12 and back-to-back two-foot birdie putts at the 14th and par-5 15th.
“Today was a bit of a struggle through eight holes. Didn’t quite get the ball in position,” Day said. “Got a tap-in birdie on nine and a good shot down the middle on 10. I knew good things would come. I just had to be patient.”
At 18, Day left his tee shot on a bank over a creek. He took off his shoes and stood in the water to hit his approach then slipped them back on for the walk to the final green and closed with a par.
– Tiger finds putting form –
Tiger Woods fired a 68 to share 31st on 214, the 14-time major champion fighting to contend in his first event since the Masters in his comeback after missing most of two years with severe back pain.
“I changed my (putting) stroke a little bit. I was so close to about 7-under on that back nine,” Woods said. “It was one of those rounds. I could easily have shot 7-under par and ended up at 3, which is a good number but disappointing, too.”
Woods reeled off three birdies in four holes, his longest putt a 13-footer at the fifth to open the run, but a bogey at the ninth set him back.
Woods made three birdies in a row on the back side, the middle of the run when he drove the 14th green and missed an 82-foot eagle putt by an inch, but closed with a bogey.
“I’m close,” Woods said. “I’m hitting the ball well enough to contend but I’m just not making any putts.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball well enough and I’m trending in the right direction for next week.”
That’s when Woods challenges the tour’s top talent at The Players Championship.