Jordan Spieth paced onto the green and marked one of the six balls on or around the putting surface in near-darkness at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Saturday.
Minutes earlier and on the same 9th hole, Rory McIlroy rummaged — in vain — through one bush, then another, on some wasteland for an errant ball belonging to his playing partner and then-tournament leader, Andy Sullivan.
It was an extraordinary end to a fog-hit, third day's play at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
The final day promises to be just as dramatic.
Sullivan made a triple-bogey before the horn sounded to suspend play in the third round, to fall out of the lead he'd held all day and leave a five-way tie atop the leaderboard between McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Branden Grace and Joost Luiten. The quintet is on 10 under par.
"It's a really bunched leaderboard," said McIlroy, one of 60 players yet to complete their third round. "It will be a bit of a sprint to the finish."
There are 21 players within three shots of the lead — and Spieth finally found some form to be among them.
The top-ranked American started the third round seven shots back, and finished it in the gathering gloom and in a six-ball — a career first — after barely beating the claxon on the 9th tee. Indeed, the horn sounded at the top of his backswing as he rushed to finish his round and avoid an early-morning return on Sunday.
Spieth is three shots off the lead after a four-under 68, and in need of what he called a "crazy round" to take victory in his first regular European Tour event.
Sullivan is one of five players a shot behind, with 2012 champion Robert Rock, Henrik Stenson, Thomas Pieters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello — after his nightmare on No. 9, when he went way right off the tee. He searched for his ball in two separate bushes — McIlroy came over to lend a hand — but had to reload.
Sullivan's second drive found the rough on the right, his approach was short, his chip onto the green poor, and he two-putted from 10 feet.
"It wasn't great to see," McIlroy said. "I was hoping he would have made that putt just to give him a little bit of momentum going into tomorrow."
McIlroy chased down Sullivan in the final round of the season-ending World Tour Championship in November to clinch the Race to Dubai title. It has happened earlier this tournament — and this time, it was Sullivan who imploded.
The other member of the final group in the third round was Bryson DeChambeau, the American amateur with the self-styled nickname of "The Golf Scientist," who plays with a set of home-made clubs that are all the same length. He started the round tied on eight under par with McIlroy, but had dropped back to seven under by the time play was suspended.
That group still had nine holes to play — more than any other group.
Waldorf wins Champions Tour event
Duffy Waldorf made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to beat Tom Lehman by a stroke Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship
The 53-year-old Waldorf shot a six-under 66 to finish at 18-under-par 198 at Hualalai Golf Course in Hawaii. He won in his first appearance in the event for major champions from the last five years, tournament winners the last two seasons and sponsor invitees.
Waldorf won the Toshiba Classic in November for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He won four times on the PGA Tour.
Lehman also closed with a 66. After Waldorf holed his birdie putt on the par-four 18th, Lehman left his 15-footer inches short.
Two strokes behind Lehman was six holes left, Waldorf made a five-foot birdie putt on the par-four 13th and pulled even with a 15-footer on the par-four 16th. Waldorf got up-and-down from the rough on the par-three 17th, saving par with a seven-foot putt.
Davis Love III was third at 15 under after a 68. Jay Haas (65) and Joe Durant (68) followed at 14 under, and Fred Couples (66) and Kenny Perry (67) were another stroke back.
Love was making his sixth senior start after playing the PGA Tour's Hawaii events the last two weeks. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain won the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in August at 51 years 4 months 10 days to become the third-oldest champion in tour history.