George Coetzee hit only six fairways on Saturday but he was still good enough to move into a three-way share of the lead of the Tampa Bay Championship on the US PGA Tour.
He carded a three-under-par 68 on a day on which halfway leader Shawn Stefani went backwards with his three-over-par 74 and wound up heading the leaderboard with Kevin Streelman who shot an incredible six-under 65 – comfortably the best round of the day – and Justin Leonard, who signed for a 67.
“I didn’t know that stat, but thanks for letting me know,” laughed Coetzee after his round. “Actually, I felt like I was in quite good control of the round, even though I might have missed a couple of fairways. I didn’t spray it off the course; I might have missed in the semi-rough or just a couple of yards in the rough, but I guess I got lucky with missing the fairways.”
He and the other two have a one-stroke lead over a group of four which includes Jim Furyk, while Luke Donald is a further shot back after his third-round 67. Coetzee’s playing partner in the third round, Sergio Garcia goes into the final round three shots off the lead in a share of 13th.
As the rest of the field battled with greens that Coetzee thought ‘weren’t going to survive until the weekend if the wind carried on blowing’, the South African revelled in the challenge they presented.
“The greens have been unbelievable the last couple of days,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed them. I think they’ve been at a pretty good speed – maybe not lightning, but I wouldn’t say they’re slow. You definitely borrow a couple of extra feet in reading your line because you know you’re going to have to lag it down there.”
With 56 world ranking points for the winner, the final round could be a huge day for Coetzee. “Let’s hope so,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and play like I did in the third round. I’ll just give it my best.”