McNeill leads in Puerto Rico

2012-03-11 10:32

Rio Grande - American George McNeill birdied the final two holes to fire a five-under par 67 and seize a one-stroke lead after the third round of the $3.5 million PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open.

McNeill completed 54 holes on 13-under 203 with Sweden's Henrik Stenson and American Kevin Stadler sharing second on 204 and Australian Matt Jones, the 36-hole leader, alone in fourth on 205 after a shooting a 72 on a windy day.

"You've got to stay patient when it's windy," McNeill said. "You have got to hit some different shots. And sometimes you just take what it gives you. Just patience is what I'll be trying to do (on Sunday)."

While most of the world's top players compete at a World Golf Championships event this week at Miami, many others came to the Caribbean chasing a $630 000 winner's prize at the Trump International resort course.

McNeill, whose only PGA title came at the 2007 Open, eagled the par-5 fifth but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at the seventh and eighth holes.

"After that I basically just felt like there was a lot of golf, a lot of time, a lot of holes that I played well on," McNeill said. "I played the back nine pretty well all week, so just tried to remember that and move forward."

He answered with back-to-back birdies at nine and 10, another birdie at the par-4 13th and two more to end the round with the lead.

"I feel comfortable with what I'm doing," McNeill said. "I'm not saying I'm going to win, because you never know. I'll just try and continue to do exactly what I've been doing. I'm not going to force anything unless I have to coming down the last few holes."

Stenson fired eight birdies to move into contention with a 65.

The Swede opened with a birdie, netted two more at the par-5 fifth and par-3 sixth and answered his lone bogey, at the par-3 eighth, with birdies on three of the next four holes. Stenson then closed with back-to-back birdies.

"I'm not feeling overly confident when I'm hitting the shots, so that's my battle at the moment," Stenson said. "I just managed to really get the most out of my round and shoot a good number.

"I've been kind of grinding it out a bit and it has been a very mixed bag, some real poor shots and some brilliant shots and some long ones and wide ones -- good short game kind of kept it together.

"I'm in a good position. And if I can stay patient as I've done these first couple of days and chip and putt well, I hope I get a chance."

Stadler began a bogey-free round with three birdies and added another at the fifth. He added birdies at the par-4 13th and 17th holes to match Stenson for the lead.

Jones, who led after 36 holes, birdied the front nine par-5s as well but closed the front nine with back-to-back bogeys and parred his way to the clubhouse from there.

Sharing fifth on 206 were Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Americans Scott Brown and Daniel Summerhays, one stroke ahead of Canada's Graham DeLaet.

Ishikawa birdied the par-5 second and fifth holes around another at the fourth, but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at seven and eight.

The Japanese sensation bounced back with birdies at 13, 15 and 17 before closing with a bogey at the par-5 18th.

Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the $3.5 million PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open (par 72, USA unless noted):

203 - George McNeill 66-70-67

204 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 70-69-65, Kevin Stadler 69-69-66

205 - Matt Jones (AUS) 66-67-72

206 - Scott Brown 69-72-65, Daniel Summerhays 68-70-68, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 70-67-69

207 - Graham DeLaet (CAN) 69-70-68

208 - Ben Curtis 67-73-68, William McGirt 71-69-68, J.J. Killeen 70-69-69, Roland Thatcher 69-71-68, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 69-70-69, Roberto Castro 69-69-70, Andres Romero (ARG) 71-67-70

209 - Brendon Todd 70-73-66, Kevin Kisner 68-72-71, Boo Weekley 70-68-71

210 - Dicky Pride 71-72-67, Jamie Lovemark 70-72-68, Blake Adams 74-68-68, Jeff Overton 68-73-69, Vaughn Taylor 70-70-70, Todd Hamilton 68-69-73

211 - Patrick Sheehan 74-71-66, Kent Jones 71-72-68, Shaun Micheel 69-72-70, Will Claxton 69-72-70, Jerry Kelly 71-70-70, Danny Lee (NZL) 70-70-71, Brian Davis (ENG) 69-70-72