Colombia’s Camilo Villegas held off a surging John Rollins on Friday to stay atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the Buick Invitational.
Villegas carded a two-under 70 for an 11-under total of 133.
He saw his three-stroke overnight lead whittled to one shot as Rollins fashioned a superb eight-under 64 that was marred by a bogey at his last hole.
Villegas briefly looked like running away with it as he stretched his lead to six strokes midway through the round.
But Rollins charged into contention with a spectacular final nine holes.
Rollins teed off at the 10th hole and made up six strokes in an eight-hole stretch on the front, including a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch from the fourth.
Bidding for his first title since the 2006 BC Open, Rollins pulled into a tie with Villegas after a birdie at the par-three eighth.
But at the par-five ninth, Rollins found the rough off the tee and a bunker with his third shot en route to a bogey.
“I just came out and made some putts, made a couple of long ones that you don’t really expect to make, and just kind of built on that as the round progressed,” Rollins said. “I started to hit the ball a little bit better and continued to make the putts and got out of there with eight-under.”
Charley Hoffman birdied three of his final five holes en route to a six-under 66 and sole possession of third place on 137.
Paul Goydos (66) and Nick Watney (69) were tied for fourth on 138. England’s Luke Donald (69) headed a group of five players on 139.
Australian Aaron Baddeley and Davis Love, who started the day three shots off the lead, both ran into trouble.
Baddeley had five bogeys and a double-bogey en route to a 76 that left him nine off the pace, while Love posted a 77.
Phil Mickelson, who has won this event three times, had four birdies and four bogeys to finish with an even-par 72 that left him tied for 17th on 142.
Reigning British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington bogeyed two of his first four holes en route to a 74 that left him 12 adrift.
AP, GOLD COAST,AUSTRALIA
Australian Katherine Hull shot a four-under 68 yesterday to take a three-shot lead after three rounds of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines.
Hull, a US LPGA Tour regular who trailed by two strokes going into the third round, had a 54-hole total of 12-under 204.
Australian Tamie Durdin was in second after a 66, followed by American Mollie Fankhauser, who is four shots back after a 68.
“I believe I can win,” Hull said after finishing with two birdies. “But there’s some great names on the leaderboard and I can’t just expect it to happen.”
Kristie Smith of Australia, who had seven straight birdies to start her round on Friday and shot 62, had a 75 yesterday to slip into a five-way tie for fourth place, six shots behind Hull.
Six-time Masters winner Karrie Webb (70-73-69) is eight shots behind Hull.
Japan Tour regular Nikki Campbell of Australia, who led by one stroke going into the third round, shot 78 and is also eight strokes behind.
Japan’s Tesuji Hiratsuka continued his title charge by battling to a four-under 67 yesterday to set up a close finale at the Asian Tour International in Bangkok.
The 37-year-old Japanese player took a one-shot lead over Australia’s Unho Park, who returned with a 66 for a 13-under 200 total.