Overnight leader John Rollins doubled his lead to four strokes as he shot a five-under 67 to outpace fellow American Ryan Palmer at the Reno-Tahoe Open on Saturday.
Rollins, who fired a course record-tying 62 on Friday, overcame an up-and-down front nine to record three birdies and an eagle on the 11th to complete the third round at 17-under 199.
“I told my caddie going to 10, going down the 10th fairway, we just needed to settle down and kind of right the ship and just try to get a good back nine and we’d be in position,” Rollins told reporters. “Sure enough we go out and birdie 10, eagle 11 and then make a great putt on 13 for birdie and then birdied 18 to finish there.”
Palmer, who started the day tied for sixth, moved into contention with a 66 for a 203 total at the par-72 Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno.
REUTERS, AKRON, OHIO
Padraig Harrington and six-times champion Tiger Woods set up a mouth-watering last-day duel for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with electrifying displays on the back nine in Saturday’s third round.
Overnight leader Harrington reeled off four birdies in six holes from the 12th on the way to a three-under-par 67 at a rain-softened Firestone Country Club, stretching his advantage to three strokes.
Although the Irishman briefly faltered with a bogey at the par-five 16th where he duffed his fourth shot from a greenside bunker, he drained a 19-footer on the 17th green to finish at 10-under 200.
“I’m obviously happy with my day’s work,” Harrington told reporters. “The key is to keep breaking 70. That makes sure everybody else, if they’re going to win this tournament, they’re going to have to play well. I was really pushing hard to put some room between me and the field, and that was a nice feeling. I was just going after things and really trying to go forward.”
Harrington is bidding to win his first title on either the PGA or European tours since last year’s PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
Woods, seeking his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year on one of his favorite layouts, birdied four of the last six holes for a superb 65, matching the best score of the day.
The 14-times major winner, whose approach play and putting were in sizzling order, sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the last to secure second place at seven-under.
South African Tim Clark, playing with Harrington in the final pairing, carded a 71 to lie five strokes off the lead in a tie for third with American Jerry Kelly (69).
Clark, however, was later given a two-stroke penalty for incorrectly replacing his ball on the 16th green after initially removing it so Harrington could putt, his error dropping him back into a tie for 14th at three-under.
British Open champion Stewart Cink of the U.S. (68) and Masters winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina (68) were among a group of 10 players bunched at four-under.
Woods, however, cast an ominous shadow over the rest of the elite field of 79, Harrington included.
He has won the Bridgestone Invitational six times in just nine starts and said his game had improved since he clinched his 69th PGA Tour victory at the Buick Open on Aug. 2.
“I’ve made some improvements and I’m more confident in what I’m doing,” Woods told reporters after piling up six birdies and a sole bogey in overcast, wet conditions at Firestone. “This week I hit the ball pretty good, especially today on the back nine. I drove the ball pretty good all day and hit some really good iron shots in there today.”