- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) - A lucky bounce on No. 18 helped Scott Hend preserve the lead at the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday.

There was to be no late rescue act from Danny Willett.

After a fluctuating third round that threw the European Tour’s flagship event wide open, Hend led by a shot on 9-under 207 thanks to a second straight eagle on the par-5 last hole at Wentworth. The Australian’s 8-iron approach landed in the light rough to the right of the green and kicked in, curling round to rest within 3 feet of the cup.

Hend made the putt for a 1-over 73 to climb back atop the leaderboard, where he started the day alongside Willett and Y.E. Yang.

“It was a nice bonus,” said Hend, who is seeking his second victory of the year. “I got a lucky bounce, but it was very nice.”

Willett, the Masters champion and the only top-20 player in the tournament, built a two-shot lead by birdieing the par-3 No. 5 but his round unraveled from there. He struggled to read his putts and bogeyed five of his last 10 holes to sign for a 76, tumbling to 6 under and a tie for fifth.

“It’s disappointing to be somewhere there or thereabouts and then to play poor on the back nine like we did yesterday,” the ninth-ranked Willett said. “Off to the range and see if we can get something going for tomorrow.”

Willett no longer leads the home challenge at Wentworth, either.

That honor goes to fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who shot 66 - the lowest round of the day - to be within a shot of Hend on a course he knows very well. Hatton’s childhood home was 30 minutes away from Wentworth and he has been coming here since the age of 5, first with his parents as a wide-eyed spectator and now as a potential champion.

“I was in awe of the guys inside of the ropes, and for me now, playing my third BMW PGA, it’s great,” the 24-year-old Hatton said. “It just makes this tournament feel so much more special.”

Playing the event for the 23rd straight year, Lee Westwood is also in contention after a 68. The former top-ranked player finished birdie-birdie and is tied for third place on 7 under with Yang, who shot 75.

“I think Wentworth is a difficult course to lead on, to protect the lead,” Westwood said. “Lots of things can get out of control out there, because the course is getting tougher as the week goes on.”

(This story has been corrected to show that Hend’s 3rd round was 1-over 73, not 1 under.)

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