Followers called it the “big-boy leaderboard” Saturday.
Not because Charlie Wi, a 40-year-old with modest expectations but a steady swing, was the leader for the third day in a row at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Wi shot three-under-par 69 at Spyglass Hill and had a three-round total of 15-under 199.
Not because slope-shouldered, 43-year-old Ken Duke, who has a metal rod in his back and too many years on the Nationwide Tour to be proud of, shot 65 on the Monterey Peninsula course and was three shots behind Wi.
No, it was because Tiger Woods, winner of 71 PGA Tour events but none since 2009, shot 67 and was third, four shots behind Wi, who has never won on the tour.
And because Phil Mickelson (70) and Dustin Johnson (70), who between them have combined to win five of these clambakes (the nickname for this tournament when Bing Crosby was the host), are tied for fourth, six shots behind Wi.
But it is Woods who will be the focus of attention today, playing in the second-to-last group with Mickelson. Woods’ round of 67 on Saturday at Pebble Beach meant that for the first time in three years he has shot three rounds in the 60s in the same week.
Better than that, to the thunderous fans who rooted loudly for Woods at Pebble Beach and even to Wi, who wants so much to win a tournament, having Woods in contention is a great thing.
“We definitely need Tiger out there,” Wi said. “He drives the PGA Tour. I don’t know if you guys want to hear that ... it’s very important for him to be competing and being near the lead all the time because that drives viewers and that’s what helps us with our retirement fund.”
Wi laughed about that last part.
The retirement fund began to look good when Woods birdied five holes in a six-hole stretch on a Saturday that was alternately sunny, dreary and drizzly.
Part of birdie-making is needing as few putts as possible, and Woods hit 27 on Saturday.
“I didn’t hit it as well as I did the last two days,” Woods said, “but I made some more putts and really managed my game well today. When I missed, I missed in all the right spots. Even though my game was slightly off, it’s not as off as it used to be. Which is very good.”
U.S. TEEN LEADS
American teenager Jessica Korda moved into position for a two-sport, father-daughter Australian double, shooting an even-par 73 to take a one-stroke lead in the Women’s Australian Open lead at Royal Melbourne.
Korda, the 18-year-old daughter of 1998 Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, is at 4-under 215. Korea’s So Yeon Ryu is one shot back after a 76.
England’s Lee Westwood shot a 5-under 67 and took a one-shot lead at the Dubai Desert Classic after shaky play sent second-round co-leaders Rory McIlroy (72) and Thomas Bjorn (73) tumbling.
Westwood, the third-ranked player in the world, has a 15-under 201 total. .
CHAMPIONS LEAD TIED
Corey Pavin and Peter Senior – both winless on the Champions Tour – shared the lead after the second round of the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla.
Pavin followed his opening 8-under 64 with a 70 to match Senior at 10 under.
tracking locals on the pga tour
This week: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, through today, Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach and Spyglass Golf Courses, Pebble Beach, Calif.
In the field: Puyallup’s Ryan Moore and Tacoma’s Troy Kelly.
Moore’s third-round score: 1-under-par 71 at Pebble Beach.
Kelly’s third-round score: 5-over 77 at Pebble Beach.
Position: Moore (7-under 207) is tied for 12th, and Kelly (2-over 216) missed the cut by three strokes. Charlie Wi is the leader at 15-under 199.
Recap: After making a 13-foot birdie putt at the 15th hole, then a 3-footer for birdie at No. 16, Moore was at 2 under with the finishing par 5 to play. But with the wind kicking up, Moore’s third shot from 80 yards found the greenside bunker, and he did not save par. He hit 10 of 18 greens in regulation in a round of 71. … Bogeys at Nos. 9, 11 and 12 out of bunkers – part of the course’s toughest stretch – quickly turned Kelly’s solid round into a rocky one.
Moore’s tee time today: 8:45 a.m. PST off Pebble Beach No. 1 tee.
Todd Milles, staff writer