Martin Laird finally regained control with a two-shot swing on the par-5 16th and finished with a 2-under-par 70 for a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin going into the final round with high stakes.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Martin Laird’s fortunes rose and fell Saturday at Bay Hill. The only thing that never changed was his name atop the leaderboard in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Laird finally regained control with a two-shot swing on the par-5 16th and finished with a 2-under-par 70 for a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin going into the final round with high stakes.
Six players were separated by five shots, a group that does not include Tiger Woods. He traded an eagle and birdies with bogeys and a double bogey on his back nine that sent him to a 74, leaving him 10 shots behind.
Laird ran off three straight birdies early in the round to build a four-shot lead. Four holes later, Levin pulled within one shot and they were tied for the lead with three holes to play.
That’s when it turned in the Scot’s favor.
Laird got up-and-down for birdie from just right of the green on the 16th, while Levin was in trouble from the start. He drove into the trees, chipped out into a bunker and then pulled his third shot into the water. He had to make a 6-foot putt to escape with bogey on the easiest hole at Bay Hill. Levin wound up with a 71.
Laird was at 11-under 205 as he goes after his second career PGA Tour victory. Levin has never won, and even more is on the line Sunday. A victory would send him to Augusta National for the first time.
“That’s in the back of my mind, for sure,” Levin said.
Laird has already qualified for the Masters.
Ryan Moore of Puyallup shot a 71 and was seven shots back at 212. Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor fired a 66 and was eight shots back.
Shin leads LPGA
INDUSTRY, Calif. — Second-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a 3-under 70 to take a one-stroke lead over Sandra Gal after the third round of the Kia Classic.
Shin had a 15-under 204 total.
Former Husky Paige Mackenzie shot a 72 and was in a four-way tie for eighth with Michelle Wie (71) at 5 under.
• Kenneth Ferrie shot a 60 to equal the European Tour record at the Andalucia Open in Malaga, Spain, climbing within one stroke of leader Paul Lawrie (198) heading into the final round.