WASHINGTON (AFP) – American Scott Piercy shook off a lengthy weather delay to fire a five-under-par 66 on Saturday and push his lead to four strokes at the US PGA Tour 3M Open.
Piercy, who led by three strokes when the day began, birdied five holes in a row to hold a four-stroke lead and was on the green at the par-3 eighth when players were pulled off the course because of thunderstorms.
After a delay of six and a half hours, 2016 US Open runner-up Piercy left a birdie putt from just inside 50 feet some five feet short then sank his par putt.
He would drop a shot at the ninth, but after birdies at the 10th and 12th he took a six-stroke lead to the 18th, where his second shot found the water on the way to a closing bogey and an 18-under par total of 195.
At the same time, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo grabbed a two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th, capping a four-under 67 for 14-under 199.
Grillo broke out of a group on 13-under that featured Doug Ghim and Tony Finau, who both carded third-round 65s at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota.
Piercy, 43, is chasing a fifth PGA Tour title. He won the 2018 Zurich Classic pairs event but his most recent solo crown was the 2015 Barbasol Championship.
He launched his five-birdie run with an 18-foot putt at the third hole and added a seven-footer at the fourth, a 14-footer at the fifth, a three-footer at the par-five sixth and a 10-footer at the seventh.
“It feels great,” he said after the long day, during which he did some walking with one shoe off because of a blister on his right heel.
“I obviously would have liked to have kind of finished off the last hole a little bit better… The last four, five holes, kind of some tired swings and a little bit of mental grind today. So I’m happy that I actually gained a stroke from three to four and let’s go do it again tomorrow.”
Grillo, who picked up four shots in the first six holes with the help of an eagle at the sixth, admitted that the delay robbed him of momentum.
That made the two-shot swing at the last all the more important.
“It definitely helps, makes my job a little bit easier tomorrow,” said Grillo, who nevertheless said that if Piercy keeps playing as he did on Saturday “that’s going to be very tough”.