Sergio Garcia made it look as simple as closing his eyes and waking up to a share of the 54-hole lead, keeping a clean card on his way to a 6-under-par 66 and a three-way tie at the top Saturday in the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.
In his debut at the Country Club of Jackson with its pure, fast greens, Garcia stuck to his routine of closing his eyes over putts to get a better feel. He converted most of his chances to share the lead with J.T. Poston and Cameron Davis.
They were at 14-under 202 going into a final round in which 10 players were separated by four shots.
Davis opened with five straight birdies, and the Australian’s biggest highlight was a fairway metal into 10 feet for eagle on the par-5 14th hole that carried him to a 9-under 63.
He was the first to post at 202, and then Garcia and Poston caught up to him.
Poston reached 15 under with a two-putt birdie on the 14th and a pitch from the rough to 4 feet on the reachable par-4 15th. But he was too steep on a bunker shot on the 16th, coming up 30 feet short and leading to bogey. Poston stayed in a tie by saving par from a bunker on the 18th with a 12-foot putt for a 69.
Brandt Snedeker, looking confident with that pop of a putting stroke, shot a 67 and was one shot behind along with Kristoffer Ventura, the former Oklahoma State start from Norway who had a 68.
For Keegan Bradley, it was a battle. Staked to a two-shot lead going into the weekend, he had three bogeys on the front nine before he hit a hybrid from 255 yards to 15 feet for an eagle on the 11th hole. He finished with seven pars for a 73, though he was very much in the picture.
Bradley was at 12-under 204 along with Aaron Wise (67) and Dan McCarthy (69).
Garcia is trying to extend a streak in which he has won somewhere around the world each of the last nine years dating to 2011, which also was the last time he was outside the top 50 in the world. Garcia slipped out to No. 51 this week and decided to play the Sanderson Farms Championship for the first time.
He also reverted to putting with his eyes closed, which he said he has done at various points during his career, including the 2017 Masters that he won in a playoff with Justin Rose.
That Masters is the last time Garcia had a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.
Charley Hoffman had a 72 and was four shots behind along with Tyler McCumber, a runner-up last week in the Dominican Republic, who shot 66 to get back in the picture for a final round that figures to be wide open.
LPGA — Mel Reid gave herself another chance for her first LPGA Tour victory.
Two weeks after missing an opportunity in Portland, the 33-year-old Englishwoman shot a 5-under-par 66 to take the lead into the final round of the Shoprite LPGA Classic in Galloway, N.J.
In Portland, Reid closed with a 2-over 74 to tie for fifth after taking a two-stroke lead into the last day.
“Sometimes I get too quick and it kind of makes me quick on my swing,” Reid said. “So just take my time tomorrow I think. That is basically what we kind of took away from last week. I was just rushing things a little bit and probably hitting shots I wasn’t quite comfortable with. Tomorrow I’m going to take my time a little bit more, and hopefully it makes a bit of a difference.”
Reid eagled the par-5 ninth in a bogey-free round Saturday. She had a 15-under 198 total.
“I’m starting to get a little confidence and starting to feel like I can be one of the world’s best, so we’ll see,” Reid said “Just keep doing what I’m doing and stay humble and hopefully good things will happen.”
The three-time European Solheim Cup player has six victories on the Ladies European Tour.
Americans Jennifer Kupcho (65) and Jennifer Song (65) were tied for second.
Third-round leader Nasa Hataoka was 12 under after a 70.
Ryann O’Toole (67) and Kelly Tan (65) were 11 under. Brooke Henderson (65) was another stroke back.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson, winless since the June event last year, was 6 under after a 68.
The tournament is being contested at 72 holes for only the second time since it began in 1986. The additional round replaced the pro-am that was canceled because there are no spectators.
European — Tommy Fleetwood reveled in poor conditions to play himself into contention for a sixth European Tour title at the Scottish Open in North Berwick, Scotland.
Fleetwood defied gusting winds and constant heavy rain, which left parts of the course at the Renaissance Club under water, to card a 2-under 69 in the third round. He is two shots behind fellow Englishman Robert Rock at the top.
The last few groups finished in near darkness and Rock contemplated not continuing on the par-three 17th as he struggled to see the pin, but he parred the last two holes to complete an excellent 72.
Ian Poulter, Marcus Kinhult, and Wade Ormsby share second place alongside Fleetwood, but overnight leader Lucas Herbert slumped six shots off the pace after struggling to a 79.
“I loved every minute of it,” Fleetwood said. "It’s golf isn’t it? Let’s face it, with the money we play for these days it does not do any harm does it? It’s fine. I’d play in it every day if that’s what it took.''
Fleetwood ended his round with a birdie on the 18th
"It was pretty relentless,'' he said. “The rain didn’t stop for half a second and just got worse and progressively worse and windy throughout day. It was pretty tough towards the end.”
Poulter began the day two shots off the lead and remarkably played the first 11 holes in 2 under par before the worsening conditions contributed to four dropped shots in the last seven holes.
“I think it’s pretty good, I have to say,” Poulter said after his 73. "It was damage limitation whenever you missed a green or fairway and that was hard work. That’s as tough a day as I’ve seen on a golf course in 21 years.
"It was a shame towards the end it just got unmanageable really, but on the front nine I played some great golf. It’s really easy to sit here and just moan and say the golf course got unplayable, right. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to say it was a massive mental challenge, and we needed all of the greenkeepers' help to get us here.''
Victor Dubuisson, Adri Arnaus, and Gavin Green all shot 67in the slightly better early conditions that lifted the trio into a tie for sixth with England’s Andy Sullivan, who returned a 69.
Dubuisson was unbeaten on his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles in 2014 and reached a career-high of 14th in the world the same year, but began this week ranked 400th.