Jason Day fired a 4-under 67 on Saturday and will take a two-shot lead into Sunday’s finale of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Entering the round one off the lead, Day got off to a somewhat slow start, and was 1-over through eight holes, but the former world No. 1 heated up around the turn, reeling off five birdies in a seven-hole stretch (Nos. 9, 10, 12, 14, and 15) to post a 67 and sign off on a three-day total of 10-under par.
“Being able to get up and down I don’t know how many times, maybe 12 times or so out of the bunkers was really nice. But the putting’s been pretty good,” said Day, who already owns a win this season (Farmers Insurance Open).
“Today the first eight holes were a bit of a struggle for me, just couldn’t quite time it up, just couldn’t quite find the face.
“After the second shot on 9 and the tee shot on 10, started getting a little bit better with the timing and hit a lot better on the back side.”
After opening with a 1-over 72, Nick Watney has carded rounds of 67 and 66 to move to solo-second at 8-under par.
“I played great. Got off to a nice start, which is the first five holes here are pretty stout so I was a couple under through there,” said Watney.
“Really going along great, and then got a little greedy on my, you know, basically a chip-out on 10 and made a mess of that. But I knew that I was doing a lot of good things, just had to stay the course.
“I was able to make some birdies there around 14, 15, I felt like you could get a couple there, but definitely a bonus to birdie the last.”
Peter Uihlein shot a bogey-free round of 9 under, highlighted by a six-hole stretch (Nos. 5-10) of birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle en route to a tournament-low 62. It was Uihlein’s best career round on Tour, and one shot shy of Rory McIlroy’s course-record 61.
“The way the golf course was set up today, it felt like you can get after it a bit. With the conditions being overcast and no wind, it definitely feels it played a little bit easier than it did the first two days,” said Uihlein, who won on the Web.com Tour in 2017 to secure his PGA Tour privileges.
“The first two days felt like a U.S. Open. So today, you know, with the greens a bit softer and it seemed like the flags were a little bit more accessible, and I was able to make a good birdie on 5 and 6 and then just kind of keep the pedal down from there because those are the holes — after I think 7 through about 15 are the holes you can really attack out here.”
Uihlein is tied for third with Paul Casey (69), Bryson DeChambeau (66), and Aaron Wise (70).
Sam Saunders drained a 37-foot birdie putt on the par 3-17th hole to card a 3-under 68. Saunders is T7 at 6-under par, alongside Charl Schwartzel (70) and Johnson Wagner (69).
Phil Mickelson moved from T48 to solo-tenth after a bogey-free 64 which included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 10th hole.
“I had a good day, but the course was a lot different with the overcast and it wasn’t as dry and firm on the greens so you could get the ball reasonably close,” said Mickelson, who will be searching for his 44th win on Sunday.
“But you still have to make a lot of putts. It’s hard to hit it really close. So I made good 15 to 30-foot putts for some birdies that made the round.”
Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler shot rounds of 67 and 68 respectively to move to T11 at 4 under, one clear of Rory McIlroy, who followed up a 76 on Friday with a 66 to move to T16 at 3-under par.
“The course was easier; maybe not quite 10 shots easier but it was a few shots easier,” said McIlroy when asked about the difference in rounds.
“Just greens are a little softer, the humidity in the air, the moisture, it’s just sort of held a bit more. There’s a few up tees. So yeah, I mean, it was a bit easier out there.”
Tiger Woods shot a 68 and is 1-under par at T31, alongside Justin Thomas (70), among others.
TOP 10 LEADERS
1. Jason Day -10
2. Nick Watney -8
3. Peter Uihlein -7
3. Bryson DeChambeau -7
3. Paul Casey -7
3. Aaron Wise -7
7. Sam Saunders -6
7. Charl Schwartzel -6
7. Johnson Wagner -6
10. Phil Mickelson -5
11. Rickie Fowler -4
11. Patrick Reed -4
16. Rory McIlroy -3
31. Justin Thomas -1
31. Tiger Woods -1
48. Brooks Koepka +2
VIDEO: ROUND 3 HIGHLIGHTS
“This year I’ve kind of recommitted myself to try to get back to No. 1. I know that there’s a bunch of players in front of me that are trying to do the exact same thing and guys behind me trying to do the same thing. So I’ve got to get up every morning and do everything I possibly can to get back to that ultimate goal of getting back to No. 1. Weeks like this improve it. I’ve just got to focus. If it doesn’t work out tomorrow or if it does work out tomorrow, the bigger picture is No. 1.”
– Jason Day