Wells Fargo Championship: Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney lead despite poor finishes
Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney share the lead at the Wells Fargo Championship despite late stumbles in round three.
Last Updated: 05/05/13 6:31pm
The two Americans are on eight-under par - one shot clear of compatriot George McNeill - but will feel they missed a golden opportunity to turn the event into a two-horse race after playing excellent golf for most of the day at the Quail Hollow course in North Carolina.
Mickelson was a shot clear on 11-under when he teed off at the par five 15th - one of the easiest holes on the course - but walked off the green with a double bogey seven.
After tugging his drive next to a cart path down the right of the fairway, the left-hander smashed his second even further right and out of bounds. In classic Mickelson style he then attempted the shot again rather than playing safe and this time made an excellent job of it but missed a six footer for par.
Another bogey at the next after his approach hit a spectator on the head meant three shots gone in two holes and he had to scramble a par at the last to post eight-under.
Watney, after a long wait on the par three 17th tee, hit a full-blown shank way short of the green and made double bogey to also slip back to eight-under.
The 31-year-old had hit 10-under with birdies at 10 and 11 so will be hugely disappointed, as well as a little embarrassed, by his double bogey at 17 as well as his failure to birdie the easy 14th and 15th.
Watney eventually carded a 71 while Mickelson, who started the day two shots clear, returned a one-over 73.
England's David Lynn is in a six-way tie for fourth at six-under, just two back, after a superb birdie-birdie finish at 17 and 18 - part of the tough final three-hole stretch which comprises the 'Green Mile'. Lee Westwood is also on that number after a 72.
Rory McIlroy, celebrating his 24th birthday, pulled within a shot of the lead at one point after an eagle at the par five seventh. But, despite looking impressive from tee-to-green, the Ulsterman missed a string of short-range putts on the bumpy greens to fall back.
His five-under total looked set to be six or seven back but the late errors by Watney and Mickelson mean he'll start the final round just three off the pace and very much in the hunt to win this title for a second time.
The final round will start early due to expected thunderstorms. The final three-ball of Watney, Mickelson and McNeill will tee off at 08:46 local (13:46 UK).