Saturday's golf: Brooke Henderson takes 2-shot lead into final round of Evian

Associated Press

Evian-les-bains, France — Brooke Henderson stood over a birdie putt from three feet at the 18th green, a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Evian Championship seemingly at her mercy.

For the first time on Saturday — maybe all week, given her dominance of the fourth women’s major of the year — her putting stroke let her down.

Henderson missed it left, to gasps from spectators around the green at Evian Resort Golf Club. The Canadian couldn’t believe it. Probably those hoping to chase her down on Sunday, too.

Seeking her second major title after the Women’s PGA Championship in 2016, Henderson had to settle for a 3-under 68 in the third round and a two-shot lead on 17-under par — two off the 54-hole record for the tournament.

She is still in a position of strength after opening with two straight 64s, but that missed putt at No. 18 might prove costly.

The closest challengers to Henderson are a former No. 1 and a player breaking new personal ground at a major.

So Yeon Ryu, a two-time major winner from South Korea, shot 65 after three birdies on her last four holes and was alone in second place. The top-ranked player in 2017, when she won the ANA Inspiration for her second major, she hasn't been in contention this deep into one of women's golf's biggest five tournaments for three years.

Two strokes further back on 13 under was Sophia Schubert, ranked No. 283 and without a top-50 finish in a major. The American birdied her last four holes for a 66 and was in new territory alone in third place in just her fifth appearance in a major.

Olympic champion Nelly Korda started the third round in second place, three strokes behind Henderson, but could shoot only even-par 71 — the worst score of the current top 20 on a warm and still day when only a few tough pin placements kept very low scores off cards.

Korda was on 11 under overall, six shots off the lead and in a five-way tie for sixth with, among others, top-ranked Jin Young Ko (67).

Above them in a tie for fourth place, five behind Henderson, were Carlota Ciganda (67) and Sei Young Kim (68).

If the end to the 2021 tournament is anything to go by, there's plenty to play for on Sunday.

Minjee Lee made up a seven-shot deficit to third-round leader Lee Jeong-eun in the final round last year and beat her in a playoff.

PGA

Scott Piercy shot a 5-under 66 at rain-soaked TPC Twin Cities on Saturday in round that was delayed more than 61/2 hours to take a four-stroke lead into the final round of the 3M Open at Blaine, Minnesota.

Playing through a painful blister on his right heel, the 43-year-old Piercy had a 18-under 195 total. He has four PGA Tour victories.

“I’ve had my struggles and to like prove and show that I can still do it and can do it is a big confidence boost,” Piercy said

Emiliano Grillo was second after a 67. Tony Finau and Doug Ghim were tied for third, five strokes back. They each shot 65.

Play was suspended for 6 hours, 38 minutes. Tee times were moved up and the field played off split tees in threesomes, however play was suspended at 10:57 a.m. and didn’t resume until 5:35 p.m.

Piercy played through the blister that he said developed yesterday after wearing a new pair of shoes.

After opening with two pars, Piercy birdied the next five holes before play was suspended. The run began with an 18-foot putt on the par-4 third. . Piercy converted the next four birdies, all with putts inside 15 feet.

It was only after that the pain from the blister crept in, so much so that he took off his shoe in between every shot up until the 14th hole.

“When you walk that weird, your body kind of adjusts, so putting the shoe back up on and trying to get set up over it correctly,” Piercy said. “I felt like I couldn’t get into my setup like I normally do and I felt that’s like where a couple of the loose shots came from, along with the tiredness.”

Piercy was even par over his final 11 holes, making a bogey on the par-5 18th. He went for the green in two and hit short into the water.

It’s the sixth time Piercy has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead, the last coming at the 2016 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. He’s won two of those events, the 2011 Barracuda Championship and the 2015 Barbasol Championship. His last victory came in the 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where he teamed with Billy Horschel.

Grillo eagled the par-5 sixth hole for the second day in a row.

“If (Piercy) brings half of his game from today to tomorrow, that’s going to be very tough,” Grillo said.

PGA Champions

Darren Clarke's bid for a first senior major title wobbled as he lost his overnight two-shot lead at the Senior British Open and Paul Broadhurst pulled level at 9 under overall after the third round on Saturday.

Clarke needed a birdie on the last hole to catch Broadhurst, who posted a 4-under 66 to Clarke's 69 at Gleneagles.

Clarke dropped shots on the 12th and 13th holes but steadied himself to stay in contention for another trophy after winning the British Open's Claret Jug in 2011.

But Clarke and Broadhurst face a tough final round on Sunday with New Zealand’s Steven Alker and American Jerry Kelly — both senior major champions — in a tie for third and only one behind them at 8 under.

Four-time major champion Ernie Els and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington are three strokes off the pace at 6 under, along with Colin Montgomerie, Stuart Appleby and Thongchai Jaidee.