Ancer, Moli­nari share Na­tional lead; Tiger stalls

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON As­so­ci­ated Press

Tiger Woods ran off four straight birdies and fin­ished the front nine with seven con­sec­u­tive one-putt greens. Un­like Francesco Moli­nari and Abra­ham Ancer, he couldn’t keep it go­ing Satur­day in the Quicken Loans Na­tional. Ancer and Moli­nari each han­dled the scorch­ing heat on the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm and shared the lead go­ing into the fi­nal round.

Ancer birdied two of his last three holes for the low­est score of his ca­reer, an 8-un­der 62, giv­ing the 27-year-old Mex­i­can his best shot at a first PGA Tour vic­tory. Ancer has never been in the top 10 go­ing into the fi­nal round in 22 pre­vi­ous starts.

Moli­nari also is go­ing for his first of­fi­cial PGA Tour vic­tory, though that comes with an as­ter­isk. He won a World Golf Cham­pi­onship in Shang­hai in 2010, though the PGA Tour did not rec­og­nize the HSBC Cham­pi­ons as an of­fi­cial win un­til a year later.

They were at 13-un­der 197, two shots clear of Ryan Ar­mour (68) and Zac Blair (66).

Woods was six shots be­hind, the sev­enth straight tour­na­ment he has been at least five shots be­hind go­ing into the fi­nal round. It sure didn’t sound that way, and for most of the round, it didn’t look that way.

With his fifth birdie of the front nine, Woods was one shot out of the lead. And then he opened the back nine with a pair of birdie chances just in­side 10 feet and missed the both. He never re­ally re­gained his mo­men­tum, fin­ished with an­other bo­gey and shot 68.

Con­sid­er­ing the scor­ing av­er­age was 69.6 in the third round, he wound up los­ing two shots to the lead.

“It was frus­trat­ing be­cause I played bet­ter than what my score in­di­cates,” Woods said. “I thought that 10 un­der would have been a good score for me to end up at for the day, and I could have eas­ily got­ten that to­day on the back nine.”

He didn’t, and now has more ground to make up.

The nine play­ers ahead of him have com­bined for just five (of­fi­cial) PGA Tour vic­to­ries.

Moli­naro has five Eu­ro­pean Tour vic­to­ries, has played on two Ry­der Cup teams and is No. 17 in the world.

The Ital­ian is play­ing at the Na­tional and plans to be at the John Deere Clas­sic in two weeks, even though the Eu­ro­pean Tour is in the meat of its sum­mer sched­ule with na­tional opens in France, Ireland and Scot­land lead­ing up to the British Open. Moli­naro is cur­rently among qual­i­fiers for the Ry­der Cup team, but his FedEx Cup stand­ing is at No. 123.

He’s mak­ing the most of his first trip to the TPC Potomac. Even though he missed a few short putts on the front nine, he closed with a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and hit wedge into 5 feet for birdie at the 18th.

“It’s where I want to be,” Moli­nari said, re­fer­ring more to his po­si­tion on the leaderboard than in heat ap­proach­ing 100 de­grees. “I would have been happy with even 11 or 12 un­der. The main thing to­day was to stay close to the leader, so I’ve done a very good job of that. To­mor­row I just need to go out and do my best, hit as many good shots as pos­si­ble and see if that would be enough.”

Ancer was tied for the lead af­ter the open­ing round at the Me­mo­rial, which is the only other time he has been atop the leaderboard af­ter any round on the PGA Tour.

NICK WASS AP

Abra­ham Ancer, of Mex­ico, watches his tee shot on the third tee Satur­day dur­ing the third round of the Quicken Loans Na­tional golf tour­na­ment in Potomac, Md.

Francesco Moli­nari

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