Sergio Garcia, seeking a European Ryder Cup spot, fired a four-under 66 on Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead after the third round of the USPGA Wyndham Championship.
Garcia, trying for his first US title since the 2008 Players Championship, stood on 14-under 196 after 54 holes, one shot in front of South African Tim Clark and American Bud Cauley.
The 32-year-old Spaniard birdied the par-three third and par-five fifth, then jumped into contention with back-to-back birdies at the par-three 12th and par-four 13th. He took a bogey at the 14th, but answered with a birdie at the par-five 15th.
Garcia would need a high finish to put himself back into an automatic qualifying spot for the Ryder Cup team, otherwise he would have to catch the eye of European captain Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain for a captain’s pick.
Garcia could also boost his chances in the upcoming USPGA playoffs with a victory, but the Ryder Cup was foremost in his thoughts.
“I am thinking more about the Ryder Cup than I am about the playoffs,” Garcia said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to play well tomorrow and even if I don’t win, it fixes everything up.”
Clark fired a 67, opening with a birdie and adding another at the third, then sandwiching birdies at the 11th and 13th around a bogey at the 12th.
Cauley had back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth holes, took his lone bogey at the 13th and put himself in the hunt with birdies at 15, 16 and 17.
American Jason Dufner fired a sizzling bogey-free 63 to jump into a share of fourth place on 198 alongside compatriot Harris English and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson, who both fired 68s.
Another stroke back on 199 were Americans Davis Love, Matt Every and Jimmy Walker.
Dufner, who squandered a late lead at last year’s PGA Championship, won his first PGA title last April at New Orleans, got married the next weekend and then won again in May at the Byron Nelson Championship.
On Saturday, Dufner birdied the first, third and fifth holes, added another at the eighth, then closed with birdies on three of the last four holes, sinking one at 18 as well as the par-five 15th and par-three 16th.
“Kind of what I needed to get back in this tournament, post a low score and kind of be in the mix tomorrow,” Dufner said.