Unheralded Tommy Gainey of the US, seeking his first PGA title, completed a six-under par 65 on Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead after the second round of the frost-disrupted Phoenix Open.
Gainey, who fired a 63 in the final group to lead after the first round ended late on Friday, stood on 14-under par 128 after 36 holes at the US$6.1 million event.
A man who once worked on a production line wrapping water heaters for transit now finds himself in contention for a PGA title.
“It would be unforgettable,” Gainey said. “It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life. I’m just trying to take advantage of my chance.”
Mark Wilson was one stroke back with Bill Haas third on 130 and Chris Couch fourth on 131.
Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who fired a second-round 65, and Rickie Fowler, who had five birdies and an eagle in the final seven holes to card a tournament-best 62, shared fifth on 132.
Mickelson holed a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th, thrilling the huge and raucous crowd.
Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley, the highest-placed non-US players, shared seventh on 133 with Americans Jason Dufner and Jonathan Byrd.
A finish today is all but assured after frozen greens and morning frost in unusually cold conditions delayed the start of play on Thursday and on Friday for a combined total of more than seven hours.
The third round started late in the afternoon and only 48 of the 74 players who made the cut teed off before play was halted by darkness.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn shot a bogey-free 66 on Saturday to take a one shot lead into the last round of the Qatar Masters.
Bjorn birdied four of the last five holes to finish on 11-under-par.
He leads from overnight leader Markus Brier, with defending champion Robert Karlsson another two shots back.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer lies at one-under for the tournament after a round of 68 on Saturday.
Bjorn, who shot a 74 on the opening day before coming back with a 65 on Friday, continued where he had left off and picked up shots at the first and seventh during a front nine of 34.
A further birdie at the 14th was followed by his late birdie spree which gave him the lead.