Francesco Molinari mastered the toughest conditions of the week at Wentworth to shoot a six-under-par 66 and share the lead with Rory McIlroy after three rounds of the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday.
Scoring was more difficult because of gusty winds and fast, firm greens at the West Course in Virginia Water, England, but Molinari managed a bogey-free round featuring six birdies starting from the eighth hole.
It was the lowest score of the day as the Italian took five shots off McIlroy, who started the round with a three-stroke lead and needed birdies at the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18 for a one-under 71 to keep at least a share of first place on 13-under 203.
It could be a two-way fight for the title at the European Tour’s flagship event, with their nearest challengers — defending champion Alex Noren (70), Sam Horsfield (72), Branden Grace (69) and Ross Fisher (68) — four shots back at nine under.
Lee Westwood is in a four-man tie for seventh place, one stroke further back, after a 69.
After playing what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 in shooting 65 on Friday, McIlroy struggled for accuracy off the tee in the crosswinds. At No. 6, he pushed an iron off the tee into the trees and drilled his attempted hack out through some bushes and off the knuckles of a nearby spectator.
He wound up with a double-bogey six that saw him drop out of first place.
About that time, Molinari was embarking on his burst of six birdies in 10 holes and never trailed McIlroy after that.
However, the four-time major winner managed to birdie the closing par fives for the first time this week to rescue his round. McIlroy was lucky at No. 18, with his drive hitting spectators on the left of fairway and bouncing back into the light rough.
Molinari has top-10 finishes in five of the last six years at Wentworth, and was runner-up to Noren last year. McIlroy won here in 2014.
Rose shoots 66 to take four-shot lead into Colonial finale
Justin Rose birdied the first three holes to quickly extend his lead at the Fort Worth Invitational and finished with a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a four-stroke advantage into the final round at Colonial.
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion with eight PGA Tour victories, was 14 under. Emiliano Grillo, his playing partner, shot 69 and was at 10 under with Brooks Koepka, who had a 67.
After a two-putt birdie at the opening par 5, Rose had back-to-back birdie putts to get to 13 under. That put him four strokes ahead of Grillo, who had eight pars in a row before consecutive birdies on Nos. 9 and 10.
It is the largest 54-hole lead at the Hogan’s Alley since Kenny Perry led by seven in 2005.
Rose’s last 54-hole lead came in the 2017 Masters, where the Englishman lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
McCarron tied with Petrovic after three rounds of Senior PGA
Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.
They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.
England’s Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.
Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.
Lee tops LPGA event in Michigan
Minjee Lee shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the LPGA Volvik Championship, with Stacy Lewis tied for second playing five months’ pregnant.
Lee capped a bogey-free third round with a birdie on No. 18 to get to 12 under, and the Australian standout will try to celebrate her birthday with her first victory of the year. She turns 22 on Sunday.
Lewis (67) birdied five of the last six holes to match In-Kyung Kim (67), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69) and Lindy Duncan (69) at 10 under. There were nine players within three strokes of Lee.
Play was interrupted for about two hours by a weather delay, but everyone was able to finish.
Lee lost this tournament by one stroke last year.