PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) One bad swing by Adam Scott led to two balls in the water on the same hole Saturday in the Honda Classic. Even with a quadruple bogey, he managed to be satisfied with a 4-under 66 and a share of the lead with Sergio Garcia.
A bizarre and breezy afternoon ended at PGA National with two players whose fortunes changed mightily in the final hour.
Scott looked better than ever, 7 under through 14 holes and only once having to save par. He was three shots ahead going to the tee on the par-3 15th, and it was starting to look like a runaway. Some 20 minutes later, he was one shot behind Garcia.
”Pretty costly,” Scott said. ”But fortunately, I had a couple shots to spare. Hopefully, it won’t cost me too big in the grand scheme of things.”
Garcia lost the lead with a bogey from the bunker on the 17th, and caught Scott with a short birdie on the 18th for a 67.
They were at 9-under 201.
Blayne Barber had a 69 and was four shots behind.
Scott and Garcia were quick to point out that Sunday might not be the two-man race, and there was plenty of evidence to back them up.
Rickie Fowler had a one-shot lead going into the third round and was the first player at the Honda Classic to go bogey-free through the opening 36 holes. And then on Saturday, he couldn’t make a birdie. Fowler made bogey on the easiest hole at PGA National, the par-5 third, and wound up with a 74 to fall five shots behind.
Nothing went right for Jimmy Walker, starting with the first tee. Playing alongside Fowler, he was introduced as ”Jimmy Fowler.” Walker had the lead with his birdie on the third hole. He didn’t make another birdie until the 18th hole, and that was to break 80.
Walker wound up 11 shots out of the lead.
”Who can tell me that the guys that are 4 under are not going to go and play like Adam did today?” Garcia said. ”We’ll see how the day goes. And then if it becomes a two-horse race on the last three or four holes, I’ll welcome that. But I will expect some of the guys behind to shoot a good number and make it tough for all of us.”
Thanks to one swing by Scott, those guys at least have a chance.
Justin Thomas opened with three straight birdies and had to settle for a 68, putting him at 4-under 206 with Fowler.
Graeme McDowell had a 67 and was six shots behind at 207 along with Scott Brown and Vijay Singh (68). Singh made a double bogey on the 15th hole without hitting in the water, hitting in the bunker or hitting in the rough. His problem was the golf ball hit the putter four times from 20 feet.
Still, nothing was more shocking than Scott on the 15th.
The former Masters champion with one of the prettiest swings in golf was flawless. He didn’t miss a green through 13 holes. He ran off four straight birdies to close out the back nine, starting with a 50-footer on No. 6, the toughest hole of the day. He stretched his lead to three shots. Get through the final four holes, and he might have made it easy on himself.
And then his 6-iron soared into the wind, and everything changed.
Scott went to the front of the circular drop zone and was stunned to see it bounce over the back of the green and tumble into the water. After checking to see if he could play out of the water – he couldn’t – he went back to the drop zone for a third try and hit it 10 feet from the hole. He missed that for a 7, and Garcia’s long two-putt par gave the Spaniard the lead.
Scott’s most important holes were the next two. He pulled his tee shot left, cleared the water from the rough and got up-and-down for par
”The par there was very important at the time, because it’s really stopping a severe bleed after 15,” he said.
And then he hit 6-iron to 10 feet on the 17th for birdie, regaining the lead when Garcia made bogey.
Scott didn’t seem overly bothered by the quadruple bogey, mainly because of the 17 other holes he played so well.
”I did a lot of things really well today, so it’s exactly the round I needed,” he said. ”I need to put one more together tomorrow. It’s going to be an exciting day for me.”