Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney wound up tied for the lead Saturday in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., minus the separation from the rest of the field.
Mickelson hit a shot out-of-bounds on the 15th hole and hit another shot that struck a spectator in the head, costing him three shots over the last four holes at Quail Hollow in his round of 1-over 73. Watney hit a semi-shank with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th, took double bogey and had to settle for a 71.
It felt like small consolation that they were tied at 8-under 208, one shot ahead of George McNeill, who had 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.’’
Instead of pulling away from the pack, their mistakes in a wild final hour allowed a dozen players to get within three shots of the lead.
One of them was Rory McIlroy, who shot 73 and missed seven putts from 5 feet or closer, which was no way to celebrate his 24th birthday. McIlroy ranked 82d out of the 83 players who made the 36-hole cut in the key putting statistic, yet he still goes into the final round with a good chance for his first win of the year.
But it’s a crowded race.
John Senden completed his round of 67 some three hours before the leaders finished. Ryan Moore was right behind him with a 68. They were among six players who were tied for fourth, two shots behind. That group included Lee Westwood, who made two birdies and two bogeys in his otherwise boring round of 72.
LPGA — Two-time champion Cristie Kerr shot a 5-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen after the third round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va.
Kerr made six birdies to reach 10-under 203. She took command on a day when seven players shared the lead at one point or another, then faltered. Lewis shot a 69, and Pettersen, the 2007 champion, had a 68.
Angela Stanford (70) was fourth, and Ilhee Lee (69) was fifth.
Ariya Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old Thai player who led after each of the first two rounds, had three bogeys and a birdie on her first four holes and fought a balky putter for a 73 that left her five shots back.
Champions — Gene Sauers chipped in for birdie on the par-4 17th a day after making a double bogey on the hole, and finished with a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the Insperity Championship at The Woodlands, Texas.
Sauers hit into the water on the 17th hole Friday, but atoned for the mistake Saturday with a 25-yard chip. He had an 8-under 136 total.
Mike Goodes was second after his second straight 69.
European — Brett Rumford shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead over Mikko Ilonen (73) after the third round of the China Open in Tianjin.
Web.com — Brendon Todd fired a 2-under 69 to take a one shot lead over Tim Wilkinson (70) after three rounds of the Stadion Classic at UGA in Athens Ga. Todd stands 8 under 205. Former Presidents Cup player Woody Austin (70) is four shots back and Rhode Islander Billy Andrade had a 75 to fall 12 behind.