Saturday's golf: Knous, McNealy share lead at Fortinet Championship

By Michael Wagaman
Associated Press

Napa, Calif. — Jim Knous shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday for a share of the lead with Maverick McNealy after three rounds in the Fortinet Championship.

Knous had eight birdies, five on the front nine, then held on after a bogey on No. 12 to match McNealy at 14 under. McNealy, the second-round leader, had four bogeys on the front none, then closed with three consecutive birdies for a 70.

Jim Knous, seen here in a file photo, had eight birdies, five on the front nine, then held on after a bogey on No. 12 to match Maverick McNealy at 14 under

Max Homa (65) was two strokes back with Scott Stallings (67), Mito Pereira (70), Troy Merritt (69) and Beau Hossler (70).

Ten others, including Phil Mickelson (67), were four strokes back heading into the final round.

On a cool, sometimes blustery day when the lead changed hands several times, Knous made up for an uneven day off the tee with steady, consistent iron play that put him in good shape on the greens. The 31-year-old needed just 22 putts covering 69 feet to maneuver his way to the front of the pack.

“Putter got hot there late on the back nine,” said Knous, who is winless on the tour since making his debut at this course in 2019. “I just tend to see the breaks pretty well out here. A lot of them have big swings and you can use your imagination and that’s kind of how I like to putt, so I was able to roll some nice ones in.”

Knous made an 8-foot birdie putt from off the green on 18.

“Me and my caddie had a great read,” Knous said. “It was just going to break a little bit right at the end. Put a good stroke on it, perfect speed, and there you go.”

McNealy entered the day with the lead, but fell three strokes behind after struggling with his driver on the front nine.

McNealy was 2 over for the round midway through the back nine when he got rolling. He made a 22-foot putt for birdie on 13, rolled another long putt in for birdie on 16, then sank two more birdie putts on the final two.

“It was a crazy day,” said McNealy, who, like Knous is seeking his first tour win. “I remember hitting a good tee shot down the middle on the 12th with a utility iron and everything seemed to slow down and calm down for me. I started seeing my lines with the putter.”

McNealy stayed in the hunt despite appearing to hurt his right wrist punching out from a tree well on No. 3, the first of his four bogeys on the front nine.

“(I) was really lucky that I didn’t try to hit a full swing because I chipped out sideways and a softball-sized rock came out from under the ball,” McNealy said. “I stung my wrist a little bit. I’m really glad I didn’t go after that one full because I told (my caddie) I would have been out for a year.”

Mickelson had his best round of the tournament and made five consecutive birdies on the back nine. The 51-year-old PGA Championship winner immediately went to the putting green after finishing his round.

“I felt like I blocked a couple putts … and I just wanted to work on that,” Mickelson said.

Webb Simpson also was 10 under after a 65. The 2012 U.S. Open champion had eight birdies – three more than he had in the first two rounds combined.

LPGA

Play Saturday in the LPGA Tour’s Cambia Portland Classic at West Linn, Oregon, was called off because of wet conditions and forecast rain at Oregon Golf Club.

The hilly course was soaked with more than 1.5 inches of rain overnight.

The LPGA Tour said tournament officials will monitor the rainfall and assess the course in anticipation of beginning the third round Sunday at 7:15 a.m. Prior to beginning play Sunday, the tour said it will determine whether the event will be played over 54 or 72 holes. Playing Monday in order to complete 54 or 72 holes also is an option.

Second-ranked Jin Young Ko shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to take the second-round lead at 8-under 136. Gemma Dryburgh was a stroke back.

Champions

K.J. Choi shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions’ Stanford International at Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Tied for the first-round lead with Darren Clarke after a 63, Choi had five birdies and bogey to reach 11 under at Minnehaha Country Club. The 51-year-old South Korean player won eight times on the PGA Tour.

Paul Stankowski (63), Alex Cejka (64) and Rod Pampling (67) were second, and Steve Flesch (65) and Mario Tiziani (67) were another stroke back.

Darren Clarke opened with a double bogey in a 70 that dropped him into a tie for seventh at 7 under with Retief Goosen (68), David McKenzie (65) and South Dakota native Tom Byrum (67).

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker (67) was 7 under in a group that included Jim Furyk (68), Ernie Els (68) and 2020 winner Miguel Angel Jimenez (68).

Stricker will lead the United States against Europe next week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Tiziani is his brother-in-law.

Europe

Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden smashed the course record he set a day earlier with an 11-under 61 on Saturday to open an eight-shot lead after three rounds of the Dutch Open at Cromvoirt.

The 772nd-ranked Broberg opened with four birdies and an eagle in his first six holes in benign conditions at the Bernardus club in Cromvoirt and had six more birdies in a bogey-free back nine.

The 35-year-old Swede moved to 23 under overall. He set the course record for the first time Friday with a 64.

The tournament marks a return to form for Broberg after recent years blighted by injuries. He played only 11 events between 2018 and 2020 due to a combination of hip and knee injuries.

Broberg needed an eagle three on the final hole for a round of 59, but he hit his drive well left and made a par five.

Broberg’s only European Tour win was six years ago at the BMW Masters in China, when he beat Patrick Reed in a playoff.

Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde (68) remained in second place on 15 under.