. . .And down the stretch they come.
No, not a replay of the exciting Kentucky Derby, but the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where the final round on Sunday shapes up as a potential 10-horse race to the finish.
That’s how many golfers are within four shots of the lead.
Webb Simpson, who lives about a mile from the golf course, used his local knowledge again Saturday to shoot a 3-under 69 and grab a one-shot lead at 14-under after three rounds. The closest pursuers include Rory McIlroy, who fired a 66 despite a three-putt, and is two shots behind.
The Northern Ireland native has a shot at reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in the world on Sunday.
Talk about a horse race. Simpson was among five players that were tied for the lead at one point, but broke away from the pack with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 17. He leads D.A. Points and Ryan Moore by one shot.
Nick Watney, the second-round leader, wobbled a bit on moving day. He missed three birdie chances inside 15 feet over the last seven holes, and then took a bogey on the 18th when his drive went into the creek. He settled for a 72 and joined McIlroy at 12-under 204.
Besides playing in his own back yard, Simpson had the luxury of playing in a group without Tiger Woods, who stood out for all the wrong reasons during the first two rounds of the tournament. Tiger turned pussycat the first two days, shooting even-par and missed the cut for only the eighth time in his career.
Here’s how the Significant Others fared after two rounds:
McIIroy (No. 2 ranked player in the world) – A six-under 66 put a 12-under 204, two behind the leader. He won his first PGA tournament here two years ago with a final round 62. Of the top 22 players going into the final round, he is the only player to have won this year.
Hunter Mahan (No. 5 ranked player in the world; No. 1 in FedEx Cup points) – A double-bogey on the par 3 17th and bogey on the par 4 18th were the primary reasons he fell 32 places on the leader board, all the way into a tie for 66th place.
Phil Mickelson (No. 10 ranked player in the world) – Lefty had four consecutive birdies late in his round en route to a 4-under 68, but is nine shots behind the leader and rests in a tie for 30th place. He gained 33 spots on moving day.
Lee Westwood (No. 3 ranked player in the world) – He is having an identical tournament as Mickelson, shooting exactly the same score on the first three days. Westwood couldn’t get anything going on the front nine, reeling off nine consecutive pars, but birdied No. 10 and added consecutive birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 16.
Geoff Ogilvy (ranked 52nd in the world) – The Australian fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday to make the biggest jump among the leaders. The superb round catapulted him 26 spots and into a tie for eighth place on the leaderboard. He is gunning for his first top-10 finish of the season.