PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — PGA Tour rookie Luke Guthrie and Michael Thompson survived the chilly, blustery conditions and shared the lead Saturday in the Honda Classic.
With wind making the course play longer and the water look even more daunting, Guthrie held on for a 1-over 71 in his first time playing in the last group on tour. The 22-year-old from Illinois closed with eight good pars. Thompson narrowly missed a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole for a 70.
They were at 8-under 202, and had to buckle down for what figures to be a wide open final round.
Lee Westwood chipped for an unlikely birdie on the 14th hole, made a 20-foot birdie on the 17th and salvaged a par despite hitting 3-wood into the water on the final hole for a 70 that left him only two shots behind. Geoff Ogilvy also had to work hard for a 70, starting with three bogeys on the opening four holes. Ogilvy made a 7-foot birdie putt on the 18th to join Westwood at 202 and give him a great chance to erase a miserable West Coast Swing.
Ogilvy, who failed to finish in the top 50 and qualify for the Masters at the end of last year by one shot, missed his last four cuts and didn’t qualify for the Match Play Championship last week. He has until the end of the month to go from No. 79 into the top 50, making Sunday an important day.
Eleven players were separated by four shots going into the final round, a group that included Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose.
Missing from the mix was Tiger Woods.
Woods had hoped to post a low score to at least get into contention and was headed that way with a 32 on the front nine. But he didn’t make another birdie the rest of the way, and took a double bogey on the par-3 17th when his shot plugged into the bank short of the green and he never found the ball. He wound up with a 70, not a bad score under the conditions, but not good enough to achieve what he wanted. He was eight shots behind.
Woods was nine shots out of the lead a year ago after 54 holes, closed with a 62 and was runner-up by two shots to Rory McIlroy.
Instead of the No. 1 player at the top of the leaderboard, there is a pair of players who have never won on the PGA Tour, two players who realized that a victory Sunday would get them into the Masters. Thompson hasn’t been to Augusta National since 2008 as a U.S. Amateur finalist.
If the wind is anything like it was Saturday, it could be a matter of hanging on — and not just for them.
“Even par for the day was never going to go backward,” Ogilvy said. “It was only going to go forward, and I did that.”
Proof of that was the scoring. No one among the last 20 players to tee off Saturday broke par. Former PGA champion Y.E. Yang had a 67, the low score of the third round, and moved up 36 spots into a tie for seventh.
Westwood made a pair of sloppy bogeys to end the front nine and was in danger of falling too far behind until a 33 on the back nine got him back in the game. Just as key was getting through the 10th and 11th holes with par.
The par-4 11th, with the second shot over a lake, played so difficult that it yielded only birdie among 75 players — a 35-foot putt by Yang — and played to an average score of 4.8, which was higher than both the par 5s at PGA National.
The 10th played just over 500 yards as a par 4 and into the wind, so tough that Ogilvy had to hit 3-wood for his second shot.
“I like my chances regardless of the conditions,” Westwood said. “I’m playing nicely. Just got a couple of mistakes I made today, but other than that, I’m playing solidly. I have to start making a few putts. I had a lot of chances to make putts that just grazed the hole. I like being out late on a Sunday and having a chance.”
Lewis shoots 69,
shares lead in Singapore
SINGAPORE — Stacy Lewis shared the lead with Na Yeon Choi at the HSBC Women’s Champions after the South Korean birdied the 18th hole in a rain-delayed third round on Saturday.
Choi shot a 5-under 67 to tie the 28-year-old American at 14-under 202. Lewis, the overnight leader and reigning LPGA Player of the Year, had a 69.
Paula Creamer, who injured her shoulder in a car accident after a tournament in Thailand last weekend, shot 69 to trail the leaders by two shots.
Four golfers were three strokes behind Creamer — American Danielle Kang (70), Spaniard Azahara Munoz (72), South Korean Sun Young Yoo (72) and Thai 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn (72).
Lewis and Choi were in the last group on the course and had just teed off on the 18th when a thunderstorm rolled in and caused a 2½-hour delay. Lewis was up a stroke when they left the course, but when they returned, Choi made a 10-foot birdie putt to pull even heading into Sunday.
The two golfers traded the lead throughout the day. Lewis bogeyed holes No. 1 and 3 to fall two strokes behind Choi. Lewis pulled even after reeling off three straight birdies — including a 25-foot putt on No. 8 that barely caught the edge of the hole.
Choi moved atop the leaderboard again with a birdie on the 14th, but she bogeyed the next hole after missing a long par putt to give the lead right back.
Lewis maintained the one-shot advantage going into the 18th. And then the rain came.
“It was very frustrating,” Lewis said. “It is what it is and luckily we got finished today. It’s going to be tight tomorrow and we are going to have to make some putts.”
Creamer, who was in the next-to-last group, said she barely made it off before the start of thunder and lightning.
Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, had low expectations coming into the tournament after injuring her shoulder in a five-car accident on the way to the Bangkok airport on Sunday night.
She said the pain was so bad Thursday morning that she wasn’t sure if she’d play.
“I’m just so pleased to be out here, and let alone to be in contention on Sunday,” Creamer said. “That’s just beyond my imagination of what I thought even teeing it up on Thursday.”
Top-ranked Yani Tseng had a 71 on Saturday. The five-time major winner hasn’t won a tournament in nearly a year and could be in danger of losing her No. 1 spot to Choi, currently in second.
Choi can’t overtake Tseng with a victory this week, but she is moving closer.
“I think that if I think about that tomorrow, then I don’t think I can have good results,” she said. “So I will try to just think about one shot at a time.”