Brian Gay fired a four-under 66 on Saturday to maintain a one-shot lead after three rounds of the St Jude Classic and keep a US Open berth in his sights.
Gay, who won at Hilton Head in April, can earn an Open berth with a second victory of the season. His 14-under total of 196 gave him a one-shot lead over Bryce Molder heading into yesterday’s final round.
Gay, who has just five bogeys this week, made his only one of the day on Saturday at 18, where his second shot, from a fairway bunker, found the water. Gay said he wasn’t thinking yet about the possibility of punching his ticket to the second major championship of the year, the US Open at Bethpage Black next week.
“Not till you mention it. Not really. Not when I’m out there, I don’t think about it. I mean it’s a major. I’d love to play in it. I expected to be off next week ... I’ve got enough work to do here to not have to worry about that. Nothing I need to think about,” Gay said.
Phil Mickelson, who is warming up for a US Open bid, carded a 68 to lie 10 shots off the pace at four-under.
The American is playing his first tournament since revealing last month that his wife is fighting breast cancer. He’ll play the US Open as well, and after that his schedule remains uncertain.
Molder shot a 65 for 197, while Australian Robert Allenby, one of the players who had to come back and complete his second round on Saturday morning after thunderstorms halted play on Friday, fired a third-round 68 and was alone in third on 199.
Paul Goydos posted a 64 for 200, while Woody Austin (68), Heath Slocum (67) and Vaughn Taylor (69) were tied on 201.
Gay came into the tournament as one of seven players with a chance to earn a trip to Bethpage. He has led by one stroke after every round.
With five birdies in his third round, he dipped as low as 15-under and led by as many as three strokes. Once again his putting was superb, as he needed just 24 putts.
After Friday’s delay, more storms were forecast for yesterday, prompting organizers to move up the tee times for the final round in a bid to beat the weather.
■ROOKIE LOOKING GOOD
REUTERS, HAVRE DE GRACE, MARYLAND
Swede Anna Nordqvist rolled in a 20-foot putt from off the green to birdie the 15th hole for a one-shot lead at the LPGA Championship when Saturday’s third-round play was halted due to failing light.
The unlikely birdie lifted the tour rookie to 10-under par, one stroke better than Australian Lindsey Wright, who also completed 15 holes in a round that was interrupted for more than two hours because of a thunderstorm.
Two shots behind Nordqvist was South Korean Choi Na-yeon at eight-under through 17 holes.
Choi was just about to tee off at the 18th when play was called. She hurled her golf ball away in disgust at the prospect of having to return yesterday morning to finish the hole before starting the final round.
South Korean Pak Jin-young was the leader in the clubhouse at seven-under 209, one shot better than compatriot Shin Jiyai.
Eight players were due to return yesterday morning to complete their rounds.
The top four players on the leaderboard are all gunning for their first major championship and maiden LPGA Tour title, which would mirror last year’s achievement by Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, who ended the day in joint-eighth place, four shots off the lead.
Nordqvist began the day with a one-stroke lead over American Nicole Castrale, who bogeyed the second hole and the fifth to slip back.
The Swede made two birdies on the front nine of Bulle Rock to reach 10-under par, one better than Wright, who caught fire with three successive birdies from the sixth.
Two shots back was 21-year-old Choi Na-yeon of South Korea, who had four birdies in a blistering outward nine of 32 that lifted her to nine-under before a bogey at 11 pulled her back.
Choi was very nearly another shot better as her tee shot at the 151-yard, par-three seventh short-hopped the stick leaving her with a three-inch tap-in for birdie.
Michelle Wie topped Choi by making a hole-in-one at the seventh but the ace did not ignite a charge by the 19-year-old. She posted a one-over-par 73 for one-over 217.
Just as Nordqvist was making the turn, skies darkened and heavy rain and flashes of lightning hit the course forcing 22 players to wait out the long delay.
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