De Jonge quietly leads AT&T National

Published: Sunday, July 1 2012 12:18 a.m. MDT

BETHESDA, Md. — Tiger Woods played before the largest crowd of the day, even though it never topped 100. Brendon de Jonge had as many birdies — three — as people in his gallery on a strange, silent Saturday at the AT&T National.

A violent wind storm overnight that toppled dozens of trees and littered the course with limbs forced tournament officials to keep spectators and all but the essential volunteers away from Congressional for the third round. Considering the amount of debris, it was amazing they even played.

De Jonge was steady in the steamy heat for a third straight round in the 60s, this one a 2-under 69 that gave him a one-shot lead over Woods, Bo Van Pelt and S.Y. Noh headed into a final round that figures to be a lot more noisy.

Woods and Van Pelt shot 67, and Noh had a 69.

De Jonge, a South African going for his first PGA Tour win, made his final birdie on the 12th hole with a wedge out of the rough that climbed over a ridge and settled about 12 feet behind the cup. It was worthy of applause, but there was only one person in the gallery to see it — Kandi Mahan, the wife of Hunter Mahan.

Indeed, this was a day like few others on the PGA Tour.

A few volunteers, tournament staff and club members tagged along after Woods, and provided about the only noise of the round. They watched him and Van Pelt get off to a quick start, and then match pars on the back nine to get close to the lead.

De Jonge was at 7-under 206 and will play in the final group with Van Pelt and Woods, who is going for his third win of the year. Woods won the AT&T National the last time it was held at Congressional in 2009.

Billy Hurley, the Navy veteran who grew up in the area, had a 66 and was two shots back, along with Mahan, who stumbled to a 73.

SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP: At Pittsburgh, Mark Calcavecchia shot a 6-under 64 on for a share of the third-round lead with Joe Daley in the Senior Players Championship.

Calcavecchia, the Montreal Championship winner last week, matched Daley at 12-under 198 at Fox Chapel. Daley had a 68.

Second-round leader Fred Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., and Tom Lehman were a stroke back.

NW ARKANSAS CLASSIC: At Rogers, Ark., Veronica Felibert shot a 5-under 66 to stretch her lead to four strokes in the LPGA's NW Arkansas Classic.

The rookie from Venezuela continued her surprising run at Pinnacle Country Club, where she made the field as the second alternate. After missing the cuts in her previous three tournaments, she opened with a 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead.

IRISH OPEN: At Portrush, Northern Ireland, Wales' Jamie Donaldson shot a 3-under 69 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Irish Open, while home favorite Rory McIlroy was six shots back.

Donaldson was 12 under at historic Royal Portrush. England's Anthony Wall was second after a 67, and Ireland's Padraig Harrington (72) and Mark Foster (73) were 10 under.

McIlroy had a 71.

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