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AT&T National: Four tied for lead after third round
BETHESDA, Md. — Roberto Castro went from a share of the lead to five shots behind in three holes. He finished the third round of the AT&T National by hitting a 5-iron left of the 18th green and into the water. And he still managed to be part of a four-way tie for the lead.
“Wild day,” he said.
Not just for Castro. It was like that for just about everyone Saturday at Congressional.
Bill Haas hit a wedge into the water and made triple bogey on the 11th hole to fall five shots behind. Four holes and three birdies later, he had the outright lead. He was helped by Andres Romero, who squandered a three-shot lead in two holes by hitting his tee shot into a creek.
With all that action, James Driscoll must have felt as if he missed out on all the fun. All he did was post his third straight round in the 60s to join the leaders.
Castro put the perfect finishing touch on a theatrical afternoon by taking his penalty drop from the water on No. 18 and chipping in from 80 feet for par. That enabled him to salvage an even-par 71 and claim a share of the lead with Haas (68), Driscoll (68) and Romero, who closed with six pars for a 70.
“Saving a bogey would have been huge,” Castro said. “Making a par is just a bonus.”
They were at 7-under 206, which means next to nothing — not with 10 players separated by three shots going into the final round, with seven of those players looking for their first PGA Tour victory.
“This is as good a chance as I’ve had for sure,” Driscoll said. “But there’s still 18 holes to go.”
Still in the mix is 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, who had a two-shot lead after opening with a pair of birdies. He also went through a five-hole stretch when he missed five putts inside 8 feet — including a three-putt from 5 feet for double bogey on No. 8. The Texas teen had a 74, though he’s still in the game, just three shots behind.
“Making a double on the easiest hole on the course, and then following up with bogey on a par 5 with a lob wedge in my hand, it was very difficult at the turn for me to stay calm and hit good shots to start the back nine,” Spieth said. “Maybe lost a couple of shots with my emotions there, which is upsetting. But like I said, I shot 5 under yesterday. I could shoot 5 under tomorrow and be in great position.”
Jason Kokrak had a 70 and was one shot out of the lead, while Charlie Wi had a 29 on the front nine and shot 65 to finish two shots behind, along with Tom Gillis (66). Spieth was in the group at 209 with Brandt Snedeker, who had a 69.
Haas might be better off except for a pair of wedges. One went into the water on the 11th leading to triple bogey, another came up short on the par-5 16th and led to a bogey. The bright side was his nine birdies to offset that triple and three bogeys.
“The back nine, I didn’t really know where I was going,” Haas said. “Luckily after that triple, I was able to hit three decent iron shots and then make the putt. Certainly, it could have been a 6-, 7-, 8-under day. But it also could have been a 4-, 5-, 6-over day if I hadn’t putted well. I don’t really know what to make of how I’m playing. Just got to hopefully do more good than bad tomorrow.”
Romero was the only player to reach 10 under at any point, with four birdies on the front nine, including a sand wedge out of ankle-deep rough left of the eighth fairway to about 5 feet. He was sailing along until he set up for a fade on the 11th hole and came off the shot, sending it into the hazard.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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