Memphis - American Shawn Stefani overcame a quadruple bogey on the 11th hole
and closed with three birdies in a row to seize a one-stroke lead after
Saturday's third round of the St Jude Classic.
Stefani, seeking his first US PGA title, fired a four-under par 66 to stand
on 12-under 198 after 54 holes, one stroke ahead of countryman Harris English,
the 36-hole leader who could only manage a 69 on Saturday at TPC Southwind.
"I've never held a lead going into Sunday," Stefani said. "We
pushed each other to play better today. Hopefully we can go out there tomorrow
and push each other to make a lot of birdies."
Four-time major champion Phil Mickelson fired a 65 and jumped to a share of
sixth on 203, level with fellow American Eric Meierdierks and one back of
fellow Americans Patrick Reed, Nicholas Thompson and Scott Stallings.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington also fired a 65 to reach 204 and share eighth
with Americans Ryan Palmer and Roberto Castro.
"It's anybody's ball game," English said. "If anybody shoots
five-under tomorrow they can move right to the top."
Stefani, whose best PGA showing was a share of seventh at last March's Tampa
Bay Championship in only his ninth PGA start, had back-to-back birdies at the
second and third and again at the ninth and 10th.
"I was playing so well the first 10 holes and was really feeling
comfortable with my swing," Stefani said.
Then came a quadruple-bogey at the par-3 11th after he found the water.
"The quad on 11 was a miss-club and a missed choice in the wind,"
Stefani said. "I just told myself just keep making good golf swings, keep
making opportunities and see what happens.
"After it happened I hit the tee shot on 12 and had pretty much
forgotten all about it."
But Stefani answered with a birdie at the par-3 14th and then birdies at the
final three holes.
English, also seeking his first PGA title at the $5.7m event, had a mild day
by comparison, opening with a birdie and adding another at the par-5 third,
then taking bogeys at the fifth and par-3 eighth before a birdie at 18.
"I kind of hung in there all day," English said. "I was
really happy to start off with a birdie. I feel good about my game. And making
birdie on 18 really helped me out."
Mickelson had a roller coaster round that included six birdies, including
three in the last five holes, plus three bogeys, including one each to open and
close the front nine, and an eagle at the par-5 third hole.
Meierdierks, who fired a 66, had a hole-in-one on the eighth.