Bob Estes avoids looking at leaderboards and doesn't even like his caddy to tell him where he stands in a tournament until it's absolutely necessary.
What Estes missed Saturday were two strong charges at his lead during the third round of the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic.Scott Verplank and Skip Kendall shot the two lowest rounds of the day at Forest Oaks Country Club and were tied with Estes for the tournament lead at 12-under-par 204 heading into Sunday's final round.
Estes, who started the day tied for the lead with Hal Sutton, started fast but settled for an even-par 72 Saturday. He birdied Nos. 3 and 4 but parred the next three holes before bogeys on 8 and 9. He had a birdie on 11 and a bogey on 15 before finishing with three pars.
Kendall vaulted into contention by shooting a 9-under 63 Saturday - one stroke off the course and tournament record. And Verplank, who has been plagued by elbow injuries since winning the 1985 Western Open as an amateur, shot a 66.
Verplank's round took flight when he holed an 85-yard pitch for an eagle on the par-5 9th hole.
"That kind of moved me from playing pretty good to the brink of something exceptional," Verplank said. "That was the motor to my whole round."
Verplank made a 10-foot birdie putt on 11 and parred the next five holes before making his only bogey at the par-3 17th. He got that stroke back by rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt on 18.
The 33-year-old Verplank wasn't sure what to expect from himself on Sunday. He said the elbow problems have taken as much of a mental toll as they have a physical one and he conceded he may not yet be ready to contend for a tournament title.
"All I can tell you was when I won the Western, I had a lot of confidence in my ability to win a golf tournament," he said. "That is what I'm trying to build back to. If I play well, I am going to have a chance. I'm going to try to win but that is still a long way off. You keep getting hurt, you lose confidence."
Kendall, whose best previous finish at Greensboro was a tie for 49th last year, said he may have played the best competitive round of his life Saturday.
"This was pretty good - definitely up there," Kendall said. "Everything just felt really comfortable out there and, all of a sudden, I was four, five, six under and trying to make more. I don't really know where it came from - it was just one of those days."
The 33-year-old Kendall is 19th on the money list but hasn't finished in the top 35 in his last five tournaments, including two missed cuts. He made a minor adjustment in his putting stroke on the practice green after shooting a 73 on Friday and the change paid dividends.
"I felt like I was getting to the top of the ball so I tried to work on almost catching it on the upswing. That gave the ball a better chance to roll," Kendall said. "I didn't feel like I was getting a very good roll - the ball was jumping all over the place. Today, it just really rolled nicely."
Ted Tryba shot his second straight 67 and was one off the lead at 11 under. Jerry Kelly fired a 68 Saturday and was tied with Sutton, also the first-round leader, at 10 under. Stephen Ames, Trevor Dodds, Neal Lancaster and defending champion Frank Nobilo were another shot behind the leaders.
Despite sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s, the fairways were still soggy from rains earlier in the week and players were allowed to lift, clean and place for the third straight day.
LAS VEGAS SENIOR CLASSIC: Even miserable conditions couldn't stop Hale Irwin from running away with another senior tournament.
On a day when some of his fellow tour members looked like weekend hackers as they struggled to break 90, Irwin shot a 2-under 70 Saturday to take a commanding six-shot lead going into the final round of the Las Vegas Senior Classic.
Irwin, the defending champion who is looking for his third win in seven events this year, overcame rain, cold and wind gusting to 40 mph on the TPC Summerlin course to go 9-under for the tournament. It was the second big third-round lead in a row for Irwin, who won last week in the PGA Seniors Championship.
"Nobody's going to catch him in this tournament," said Jim Colbert, who shot a 78 to fall nine shots back. "No one will get to where he is unless the roof falls in."
Dale Douglass and Jose Maria Canizares were a half-dozen shots back at 3-under and Vincente Fernandez and Jim Dent were two more shots behind.
Irwin and David Graham were the only players in the field of 76 to break par, while Jerry McGee was the only player to manage an even par 72. Scores soared among the rest of the field, with 22 players shooting 80 or above. One, Billy King, finished with an 18-over 90.
LPGA CHICK-FIL-A: At Stockbridge, Ga., Liselotte Neumann shot a 7-under-par 65 Saturday and built a three-stroke lead over Pat Hurst after two rounds of the LPGA Chick-fil-A Championship.
Neumann got the last of her nine birdies on the 18th hole to get to 12-under-par 132 while Hurst, the first-round leader, went out of bounds on the hole and took her second double bogey of the round to finish with a 70 for 135. She also had a 5 on the par-3 eighth hole.
SPANISH OPEN: At Barcelona, Spain, Australian Greg Chalmers shot a 3-under-par 69 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Spanish Open.