Rookie Shawn Stefani leads, Mickelson in contention at St. Jude
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Rookie Shawn Stefani overcame a quadruple bogey and shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take the third-round lead in the St. Jude Classic.
The 31-year-old Texan blew a two-stroke lead with the quadruple bogey on No. 11, but rebounded with four birdies over his final five holes to move back atop the leaderboard. He had eight birdies to go with that quadruple bogey to reach 12-under 198 at TPC Southwind.
Harris English was a stroke back after a 69, finishing out of the lead for the first time this week.
Scott Stallings, Patrick Reed and Nicholas Thompson were 8 under. Stallings had a 67, Reed shot 64, and Thompson had a 66. Phil Mickelson was another stroke back after a 65.
Thirteen players shot at least 4 under on a day with easier pins on the small, firm greens.
This is just the 16th tour event for Stefani, who earned his way onto the PGA Tour by finishing sixth on the Web.com Tour money list in 2012 in a two-time win season. He did play in the U.S. Open in 2009 at Bethpage but missed the cut there. His best finish so far came at the Tampa Bay Championship when he tied for seventh in March.
Stefani went off in the final group with English, who had a share of the lead after 18 and had the lead to himself after 36 holes.
English opened strong with two birdies in his first three holes to become the first to get to 12 under here this week. But the 23-year-old English bogeyed Nos. 5 and 8 with his playing partner getting his third birdie on No. 9 to take the lead to himself.
Stefani hit his approach on the par 4 to 7 feet to set up the birdie, helping him make the turn at 11 under. He then birdied No. 10 rolling in a 12-footer to go to 12 under with a two-stroke lead over English.
Then the rookie ran into trouble on the island green of the par-3 No. 11.
Stefani hit into the water short of the island green on the par-3 No. 11, took his drop and then hit into the back bunker where he had a buried lie. He managed to get the ball out but didn't clear the slope, so the ball rolled back into the bunker. He pushed an 8-footer past the hole 4 feet before finally salvaging a quadruple bogey.
But Stefani birdied No. 14 and got a big par save on No. 15 after his tee shot rolled into the water near the green. He took a drop, then chipped in from 49 feet to avoid dropping another stroke and stay within a shot of English with a big smile of relief.
Stefani finished with a 3-footer for birdie on No. 16, a 17-footer for birdie on No. 17 and capped his round with an 8-footer on No. 18 just after English made a 14-footer to move back into the lead for a few moments
English had plenty of luck himself.
On the par-4 12th, his approach to the green went left and bounced off the top of a grandstand and hit off a woman before rolling into a greenside bunker. English saved par by hitting his shot within a foot of the hole to stay at 10 under.