SILVIS, Ill. Kenny Perry finished with a flourish to move into a three-way tie for the lead through three rounds at the John Deere Classic on Saturday.
Perry, seeking his third victory in five starts, birdied the 18th hole to finish at 4-under 67 for the day and 15-under 198 for the tournament. That tied him with Eric Axley (67) and Brad Adamonis (66), who at 35 is the PGA Tour's oldest rookie.
Jay Williamson (62) and second-round leader Will MacKenzie (70) were one stroke back.
Perry was at 15-under after sinking a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th before hitting trouble on the 15th, hitting rough off the tee and two-putting from 9 feet for a bogey. But he made up for it on the 18th, when his approach nearly hit the pin before settling just under 6 feet to its left.
While those three grabbed the lead, the 41-year-old Williamson made the biggest move with a 9-under round.
Five strokes off the lead when the day began, he jumped into contention for his first PGA Tour win with a strong start and an astounding 29 (7-under) on the back nine.
He started with three birdies and was at 7-under for the tournament through the first nine holes. But he made his big move on the par-5 10th hole, when his 112-yard approach dropped into the cup. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 13-under, and ended the round with a 26-foot birdie putt.
Williamson pumped his fist and left the course tied for first. Although the lead didn't last, he certainly is in a better mood than when he was after he arrived on Tuesday. He saw that he is 158th in the FedEx Cup standings and cringed.
"It frustrated me, and it also was a kick in the pants," he said. "Again, I haven't done anything yet. ... The fact of the matter is I've got to go out tomorrow and perform."
Which is exactly what Perry's been doing lately.
His best run in more than two decades on the Tour began with a playoff loss at the AT&T Classic in May and continued with victories at the Memorial and Buick Open last month. After a week off, he's in position for his 12th win.
Perry has raised eyebrows in recent weeks by deciding not to try to qualify for the U.S. Open and honoring a commitment to play in Milwaukee next week rather than the British Open. The Kentucky native is focusing on a different major accomplishment: Helping the U.S. win the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville.
"He's made a commitment to this Tour because he knows that this Tour has put him where he is, and I think other guys need to take a look at what he's doing because he's taken a lot of heat for that," Williamson said. "He's a guy that really values what the Tour means to him."
While Williamson made a big leap toward the top, 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson made a big move the other way.
He shot 4-over 75 for the day and was at 1-under for the tournament after bogeying four holes and double-bogeying the par-4 ninth.
"Very disappointing," said Johnson, who grew up just over an hour away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He insisted his left wrist was fine after missing three weeks but was at a loss to explain another tough round at what he considers his home tournament.
"I don't know what it was," said Johnson, who has never finished higher than 20th here.
LPGA CORNING CLASSIC: At Sylvania, Ohio, Paula Creamer shot a 1-under-par 70, 10 more shots than she needed for her first round, and held a four-stroke lead after three rounds of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Creamer, who set the course record with her opening 60, was at 18-under 195 through 54 holes at Highland Meadows. The 21-year-old Californian had a 65 in the second round.
South Korea's Eun-Hee Ji was in second place, as she has been after all three rounds. She shot a 68 to cut two strokes off of Creamer's lead.
She could easily have made an even bigger dent in the lead. Ji cut it to three strokes when she birdied the 11th hole while Creamer, playing in the same group, was three-putting for a bogey. Creamer recovered with birdies at the 13th and 17th holes. Ji was 1 under for the final seven holes and missed two birdie putts inside 10 feet.
Playing her first full year on the tour, Ji missed a 10-footer at No. 16. Then, moments after Creamer saved par with a 7-foot putt at the closing hole, Ji missed a 6-footer for birdie.
Rachel Hetherington had a 67 and was alone in third at 202. Karrie Webb made the biggest move of the day, shooting a 62 to climb into a tie for fourth with Chinese rookie Shanshan Feng, who shot a 64. They were both at 203.
EUROPEAN TOUR: At Luss, Scotland, Graeme McDowell and Simon Khan shared the Scottish Open lead and Phil Mickelson was six shots back after the third round.
McDowell shot a 5-under 66 and Simon Khan a 68 to take a one-stroke lead. Both bogeyed the short 17th hole at Loch Lomond, but McDowell birdied the last to draw even with Khan at 10-under 203.
Mickelson had five birdies and five bogeys for a 71 a day after his hole-in-one helped him make the cut.
Four players were at 204, including last week's winner of the European Open, Ross Fisher (68). The others were Miguel-Angel Jimenez (68), Jeev Milka Singh (69) and Richard Green (70).
CELEBRITY CHAMPIONSHIP: At Stateline, Nev., six-time champion Rick Rhoden was back in a familiar place Saturday in the lead at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
Tony Romo was glad to be in dry pants after he fell in a pond before rallying to move into second place.
A new approach by Lawrence Taylor had him climbing the leaderboard. He knows it has nothing to do with his workout regimen.
"I ran one time," said Taylor, the Hall of Famer who retired 15 years ago as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history.
"What year was that? I forgot what year it was but I didn't like it," he told reporters after he shot an even-par 72 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to briefly take the lead in the clubhouse before Rhoden roared to the front.
Rhoden, a former pitcher, also shot a 72 to push his two-day total to 45 points in the modified Stableford scoring system that awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, none for bogey and minus 2 for double bogey or worse.
Romo took a spill in a pond on the first hole after losing his awkward footing on a steep bunker shot, but rebounded to shoot a 73 worth 43 points while his girlfriend, actress-singer Jessica Simpson, watched from the gallery.
Ex-hockey star Pierre Larouche was next at 41, followed by a group at 39 that included Taylor, NHL all-star Jeremy Roenick, four-time tourney champion Dan Quinn and ex-quarterback Mark Rypien, who won the inaugural event in 1990.
John Elway shot a 4-under-par 68, the best round of the day, to get into another group at 37 with actor Jack Wagner, and ex-NHL stars Brett Hull and Grant Fuhr.