Jim Knous and Maverick McNealy both birdied their final holes of the third round to top a crowded leaderboard at the Fortinet Championship, the first PGA Tour event of the new season, while Taiwan’s C.T. Pan was just four shots off the leaders.
McNealy caught fire on the back nine, closing his round of 70 with three consecutive birdies for a 14-under 202 total to maintain a share of the lead on the Silverado Resort and Spa course.
Neither McNealy nor Knous would sleep easy heading into yesterday’s final round, as there were 18 players within four shots of the lead, including Pan, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson.
Pan, who was tied for ninth with a 10-under-par 206, shot a clean round with five birdies on holes five, six, 12, 15 and 16, for a five-under-par 67.
It was a welcome follow-up to the four birdies he landed in the second round on Friday for a four-under 68.
In the past two rounds, Pan managed to make up major ground after a one-under 71 in the first round, where his five birdies on holes five, seven, 10, 14 and 16 were marred by bogeys on two and 12, and a wrenching double-bogey on the ninth hole.
“It was a crazy day,” second-round leader McNealy said of Saturday’s play. “One of those days where the ball was running up in funny spots.”
“It was pretty hectic, and then on the 12th everything seemed to slow down for me, and I am really proud of the way I finished,” he added.
In Oregon, Taiwan’s Cheng Ssu-chia, Hsu Wei-ling and Min Lee were forced to take a day off from the Portland Classic, after an overnight downpour forced play to be canceled.
The LPGA said in a statement that course conditions found in the morning, after Oregon Golf Club received more than 38mm of rain overnight, coupled with a forecast for further rain, prompted officials to pull the plug on the day.
“Tournament officials will continue to monitor the rainfall and assess the golf course in anticipation of beginning the third round on Sunday,” the tour said in a statement.
Officials on Saturday night decided to trim the tournament to a 54-hole event.
World No. 2 Ko Jin-young was leading after Friday’s second round with an eight-under-par 136.
With only one round remaining, there was little room left for 23-year-old Cheng, tied at 14th place with a one-under 143, to move up the rankings.
She shot a par 72 on Friday, with an impressive six birdies on holes five, nine, 13, 14, 15 and 18, but four bogeys and a double-bogey held her back.
World No. 85 Hsu was tied for 23rd place with a one-over 145, after shooting par in the second round with four bogeys and four birdies canceling each other out.
Lee was tied at 50th place with a four-over 148.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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