Phil Mickelson’s ball was just above the edge of the cart path, slightly below his feet, when he decided to hit a hard fade around the trees toward the green.
The shot went out of bounds and cost him the outright lead Saturday in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., and Mickelson was angry. He thought he should have hit driver instead of 3-wood.
In the group ahead of Mickelson, Nick Watney hit a semi-shank with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th, the ball flying toward a hospitality tent. He made double bogey and pulled his cap over his face after the round.
The only consolation for Mickelson and Watney is that they were atop the leaderboard entering a final round that features a forecast of rain.
“Every shot is critical. You just can’t throw a bunch of shots away like I did coming down the stretch,” said Mickelson, who plunked a spectator in the head with his approach on the 16th and made bogey. “I’m fortunate to still be on top.”
Mickelson finished with a 1-over-par 73, while Watney squandered a solid round with his shank that led to a 71. They were at 8-under 208, one shot ahead of George McNeill, who also dropped two shots over the last four holes for a 72.
“I can’t remember the last time I did that in a tournament, so it was a bit unsettling,” Watney said about his shank. “The big picture? I’m tied for the lead, and I would have taken that on Thursday morning.”
Even so, what had been shaping up as a duel looked more like a shootout. A dozen players were within three shots of the lead at Quail Hollow, including Rory McIlroy (73) and Puyallup’s Ryan Moore (68).
PUTNAM LOSES LEAD
With a 3-over 74, Tacoma’s Michael Putnam dropped out of first place at the Web.com Tour Stadion Classic in Athens, Ga.
Putnam was tied with Miguel Angel Carballo and Woody Austin for fifth, four strokes behind new leader Brendon Todd, who had a 2-under 69.
Putnam tied for the lead Friday after making six birdies, but he didn’t have any Saturday. He also finished with three bogeys.
Second-round co-leader Russell Knox fell into a tie for 13th after a 76 that included two double bogeys.
Two-time champion Cristie Kerr shot a 5-under 66 for a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen after the third round of the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. … Gene Sauers chipped in for birdie on the par-4 17th and finished with a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s Insperity Championship in The Woodlands, Texas. … Brett Rumford shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke lead in the China Open in Tianjin, putting him in position for his second European Tour victory in two weeks. … Ernie Els shot a 4-under 68 to move within a stroke of leader Daisuke Kataoka (66) after the third round of the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters in Jakarta.