American Kenny Perry sank a 33-foot birdie putt at the final hole on Saturday to seize a one-shot lead after the third round of the US$6 million FBR Open.
Perry, who won three titles last season as he played his way onto the US Ryder Cup team at the age of 48, completed a five-under 66 for a 12-under total of 201.
“Yeah, supper is going to taste good tonight,” said Perry, who hit 16 of 18 fairways in regulation.
His birdie at the last broke a tie with Scott Piercy, who roared up the leaderboard with a 66 of his own. After going eight-under through 13 holes, Piercy posted bogeys at 14, 15 and 17. He is winless and without a top-10 finish in 22 career PGA starts.
Piercy had five birdies on the front nine and added three more in a four-hole stretch from the 10th on the back nine.
Kevin Na and Brian Gay were tied for third at 10-under 203. Na shot 66 and Gay a 67 to move into contention.
JB Holmes’ bid to win this tournament for a third-straight year ended when he missed the cut on Friday.
Geoff Ogilvy, the former US Open champion from Australia, and last year’s US Open runner-up Rocco Mediate, were in contention after solid rounds.
Ogilvy birdied four in a row from the 10th to climb up the leaderboard.
Mediate carded a 67 to move to eight-under for the tournament and four strokes back.
■DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC
Irish teenage prodigy Rory McIlroy was in pole position to chalk up his maiden win as a pro in the fog-hit Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday after a double eagle blast.
The 19-year-old Ulsterman was one of 51 golfers unable to complete their third rounds as organizers scrambled to get back on schedule after six hours of play were lost to fog on the opening two days.
After setting the pace in the first two rounds, he kept his nose in front in the third round thanks to a tap-in eagle on the 10th, his last shot of the day, after he hit a five-iron second 225 yards to two feet.
That left him at 15-under par, two strokes ahead of in-form Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Australian leftie Richard Green.
Back-to-form Englishman Justin Rose was lying third at 11-under par and a further stroke back were rising German star Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey of England, Scott Strange of Australia and Thomas Levet of France.
All had a handful of holes to complete their rounds when the third round was to resume yesterday morning, with the players going out in groups of three after that for the final round in order to avoid having to extend into today.
Seen by many as the most exciting prospect to emerge out of Europe since Sergio Garcia a decade ago, McIlroy grabbed the halfway lead earlier in the day with a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-five closing hole.
The former world amateur No.1 was one of nearly 80 players who were back early at the Emirates Golf Club to complete their second rounds.
The first round leader was one over for the round at the fourth when he resumed but reached the turn level after a birdie two at the seventh.
Playing with US veteran Mark O’Meara, who said that McIlroy was better than Tiger Woods was at the same age, the Ulsterman added two more birdies at the 10th and 13th.
He hit a perfect drive round the dogleg at the par-five 18th, hit his six-iron 197 yards to the edge of the green and sunk his putt for a four-under 68 and a one-shot lead in the US$2.5 million tournament.