HUMBLE, Texas – Even as the clouds rolled in at the Houston Open, Stewart Cink started to see some light in his game.
Cink saved par from the bunker on the 18th hole Saturday at Redstone Golf Club for a 4-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Bill Haas going into the final round. Cink is winless in 75 starts since the British Open at Turnberry in 2009. This is his first time with at least a share of the third-round lead in nearly five years.
And it doesn’t figure to be easy.
One week after he shared the 36-hole lead at Bay Hill, Haas made seven birdies over his last 13 holes for a 67 and was tied with Cink at 11-under 205.
Today’s round suddenly became loaded with possibilities that might even feature Phil Mickelson.
Twenty players were within four shots of the lead. Only three of them – Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and John Merrick – have won on the PGA Tour in the last year. And 12 of them can earn a trip to the Masters by winning.
Tomorrow you’re going to have to play very well, Haas said. You can’t just hang on and hope everybody else will fall back.
Steve Wheatcroft, the journeyman who only got into the tournament through a Monday qualifier, got off to a good start and fell back with an embarrassing finish. Wheatcroft was tied for the lead when he shanked a shot from the greenside bunker on the 18th, the ball coming out at a 45-degree angle, over the green and almost into the gallery. He made a 15-foot putt to salvage bogey for a 72.
Wheatcroft still was only one shot out of the lead, along with Ben Crane (67), D.A. Points (71) and Jason Kokrak (71).
If you don’t catch it perfectly, it runs across the green into the water, Wheatcroft said about his bunker shot. I opened the club face just trying to hit a high soft one and obviously I missed most of the club face.
Nine players were only two shots behind, a group that included former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (65), former world No. 1 Lee Westwood (67), former PGA champion Keegan Bradley (67) two-time major champion Angel Cabrera (69) and Henrik Stenson (68), who is one round away from playing his way into the Masters through being top 50 in the world.
Mickelson finished his round of 67 before the leaders teed off. He wound up five shots out of the lead.
Rory McIlroy shot a 71 and was at 214, nine shots behind.
EUROPEAN: In Agadir, Morocco, Marcel Siem of Germany shot a 3-under 69 to extend his lead to four shots after the third round of the Hassan II Trophy.
The French Open champion made five birdies but was pegged back by a bogey on the first hole and again on No. 17 to move to a 15-under total of 201.
Mikko Ilonen of Finland, Englishman David Horsey, and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain were all tied for second on 205.