CHARLOTTE — On a day when the majority of the leaderboard went low, Webb Simpson found just enough birdies at Quail Hollow in the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Simpson fired a 3-under 69 to move to 14 under for the tournament to take a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round over Ryan Moore and D.A. Points.
“I was playing great golf on the front,” Simpson said. “Unfortunately, I bogeyed 9 for the second day in a row. The back was a little more up-and-down. We had some tough pins and I think kind of the turning point of my round was 15.”
On the par-5 15th, Simpson recorded a birdie after bogeying 11 and get a par on the next three holes.
“I hit a bad drive and had a bad lie in the rough and we actually considered laying it up,” Simpson said. “But it was one of those moments where you’ve got to take a chance and it came out perfect and capitalized on the par-5 there and made birdie. To get one in the last three holes is always a bonus, so it was a great way to end the day.”
It is the third time in his career Simpson has sat atop the leaderboard after 54 holes. The last time was also in a tournament in North Carolina. Simpson had a two-stroke advantage in the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro and went on to claim his first PGA Tour victory.
Despite going into the final round with the lead, Simpson plans on taking it shot by shot.
“I look at the leaderboard and there’s so many great players within a shot or two,” Simpson said. “So I know it’s going to be a tough day. I know I can go out and shoot 4-under and get beat by two or three. This is one of those golf courses where if conditions are right you can get a string of birdies going.
“You saw (Rory) McIlroy a few years ago shoot 10-under…Obviously I want to go out there and try to win, but all I can do is kind of control what we’re doing.”
McIlroy sprinted up the leaderboard on Saturday. The world’s No. 2 player started his third round with birdies on four of the first five holes. When McIlroy walked off No. 18, he went from starting the day in 13th place to tied for fourth with 36-hole leader Nick Watney after a 6-under 66.
“I definitely feel like I’ve left a couple out there,” McIlroy said. “The three-putt on 16 was pretty disappointing. You know, a 66 is a good score out three, and I feel like I’ve got another one of those scores in me and looking forward to doing that tomorrow.”