Experience showed as Billy Mayfair and Steve Stricker moved past struggling Brandel Chamblee and took a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Buick Open on Saturday.
Mayfair, seeking his second PGA Tour win of the season, shot a 7-under-par 65 while Stricker, winless since two triumphs in 1996, shot a 68 to tie at 12-under 204 at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club.Chamblee, a journeyman seeking his first tour win, shot a 72 to fall into a tie with defending champion Vijay Singh (67) and Phil Blackmar (70).
Lurking only three strokes off the lead was Tiger Woods, who finally found his game on the back nine.
A day of sun and wind made play more difficult for some on the 7,105-yard course which had been softened by two nights of heavy rain. But it made things just about right for the long-hitting Woods, who is tuning up for the PGA Championship next week at Redmond, Wash.
Woods, with a 69, moved into a tie for third with a host of players at 207.
"I'm right there," said Woods, who finished third at the British Open. "It's not a bad spot to be in. I'm pleased with some of the improvements I've made."
Mayfair, who began the day at five under, did just about everything right on the front side. He birdied Nos. 1 and 3, spun in a 165-yard 7-iron for eagle on the par-4 4th, then birdied Nos. 6 and 7 to reach 11 under.
Mayfair bogeyed No. 8 and turned in 31. Birdies on the last two holes got him to 12 under.
"Finishing birdie-birdie was a great way to finish," Mayfair said. "Especially since I started so hot, then melted around in the middle."
Stricker, starting at eight under, made up one stroke on the front side and birdied Nos. 12 and 13 to reach 11 under. Another birdie on the par-5 16th got him to 12 under.
Striker's 20-foot birdie putt at No. 18 for the outright lead broke right at the last moment and slid three inches below the hole.
STAR BANK LPGA CLASSIC: Meg Mallon shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday in the second round of the Star Bank LPGA Classic to move into first place with a one-stroke lead at Beavercreek, Ohio.
Mallon had a 13-under 131 total after two trips around the 6,302-yard Country Club of the North in this Dayton suburb.
Donna Andrews shot a 65 to move into second place, while first-round leader Dottie Pepper and Beth Daniel were tied for third, another stroke back.
"I putted super today," said Mallon, who had nine one-putts for the round. "That really kept me in the game."
BURNET SENIOR CLASSIC: At Coon Rapids, Minn., defending champion Hale Irwin and senior rookie Tom Jenkins shot 7-under-par 65s Saturday to tie the tournament record and share the lead halfway through the rain-shortened Coldwell Banker Burnet Senior Classic.
Thirteen others were within three shots of the lead going into Sunday's final round of the 36-hole event.
Isao Aoki, who had five birdies in a 31 on the back nine, was at 66, while Vicente Fernandez and Jay Sigel had 67s. Ten players shot 68s.
Of the 26 threesomes in Friday's field, 17 had not completed nine holes before lightning forced a suspension at 5 p.m. With threatening conditions and darkness looming, the round was erased at 6:30 p.m. Seior PGA Tour rules stipulate that all players must have at least nine holes completed for any scores to count.
SENIOR BRITISH OPEN: Tommy Horton birdied three of the final five holes for a 3-under-par 69 Saturday and was two strokes ahead of former Ryder Cup teammate Brian Barnes after three rounds of the Senior British Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Horton, who has 19 wins on the senior tour but hasn't won this title, had a 209 total at Royal Portrush. Barnes carded a 68 for 211.
Welshman Brian Huggett was third at 212 after a 71 and Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland fourth at 213.