Atwal takes 3-shot lead after 3rd round at Wyndham

August 21, 2010

Arjun Atwal shot a 65 in the third round of the Wyndham Championship on Saturday, building a three-stroke lead in the PGA Tour's final pre-playoff event.

Atwal, who has led or shared the lead after each of the first three days at Sedgefield Country Club, moved to 17-under 193 entering the final round. Scott McCarron closed his 63 with four consecutive birdies and was at 196 with Scott Piercy (64) and Lucas Glover (67).

Will MacKenzie (65), Garrett Willis (65), David Toms (65), Justin Leonard (66), John Rollins (68) and second-round co-leader Brandt Snedeker (69) were at 197.

Kevin Na matched a tournament record with a 61 in the morning but wound up five strokes back at 198.

Atwal, without a win on tour, is one good round away from becoming the first Monday qualifier to win the ensuing tournament since Fred Wadsworth at the 1986 Southern Open.

He said his main goal this week was to move closer to securing his tour card for 2011. He lost his card last month because he was too low on the money list when his minor medical exemption ran out, leaving him ineligible for the playoffs.

This week couldn't have gone much better for Atwal, who had a two-stroke lead after one round and joined Snedeker as co-leaders after Day 2.

He had three pairs of consecutive birdies during the third round, and gave himself some separation with a near-eagle on No. 15, rolling a putt around the edge of the cup before tapping in for birdie to move to 17 under.

That came as his playing partner, 2007 Wyndham winner Snedeker, ran into trouble on the par-5 hole - which has played as the easiest this week. He splashed his second shot into the water and finished with just his second bogey of the week.

McCarron made a late charge up the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 15-18, closing his round by making a 20-foot putt that moved him to 14 under. Piercy had a similar bonanza with four straight birdies on Nos. 5-8, then later birdied three of four holes to join McCarron.

''For me, this is a playoff,'' said McCarron, No. 142 on the points list. ''I don't play well, then I'm going home.''

For the second time in three days, the Wyndham record round of 61 was reached. This time, it was Na's turn.

Going off in the morning's first pairing after barely making the cut, he took full advantage of the fresh greens with seven birdies through 17 holes and an eagle on No. 5. When he got to the 18th, he took aim at one more birdie.

''Honestly, you know, I wanted the course record,'' Na said. ''I wasn't going to leave it short.''

After landing his second shot near the back right corner of the green, his 40-footer wouldn't fall and he two-putted for par, settling for sharing the mark with Carl Pettersson (2008) and Atwal, who shot a first-round 61.