PGA Tour

Horschel jumps into BMW lead

Billy Horschel (AFP)
Billy Horschel (AFP)

Cherry Hills Village - Billy Horschel, who is determined to put Monday's tough finish fast behind him, has fired a third-round 63 to vault three shots clear of the field at the BMW Championship.

Horschel capped his bogey-free round at the Cherry Hills Country Club by rolling in a 32-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

It was a far cry from his final hole at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday when he chunked his second shot well short into the hazard and had to settle for a bogey.

Horschel finished in a tie for second place after having arrived at the 18th tee just one shot behind winner Chris Kirk.

"I was over it real quickly," Horschel said. "It was just a bad swing at the wrong time.

"There are bigger things in life than hitting a fat six iron in a hazard."

Tell that to world number one Rory McIlroy, who suffered the ignominy of a triple-bogey in his third round.

McIlroy's assault threatened to dissolve as he four putted on the par-three 12th. The Northern Irishman ended up posting a 72, which dropped him into a tie for 10th at four-under 206.

McIlroy joked about his triple-bogey wobble on Twitter.

"Glad everybody enjoyed my 4 putt today... always tomorrow to get a few shots back and get up that leaderboard!" he said.

Horschel ended 54 holes at 13-under-par 197 at the $8 million Colorado PGA Tour event.

Ryan Palmer, who was runner-up at the Humana Challenge and The Honda Classic, posted a 67 and is alone in second on 200.

US Open champion Martin Kaymer (64) and Masters winner Bubba Watson (66) share third place at eight-under 202, five shots adrift of Horschel but still in the hunt.

But the day belonged to the 27-year-old American Horschel, who had seven birdies and 11 pars.

Horschel, of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, matched the tournament's 54-hole scoring record with his total of 197.

Camilo Villegas set the mark in 2008 at Bellerive golf course and Tiger Woods matched it a year later at the Cog Hill course.

Horschel is projected to move to first place in the FedEx Cup points standings with a victory at Cherry Hills.

"I just came to the realization that I was being too hard on myself," he said of Monday's blunder. "I am not nearly as frustrated when I hit a bad shot. I know that it happens."

On Saturday, Horschel drained a 22-foot birdie chance on the 14th and followed it up with an eight-foot birdie on the next hole. His run was briefly stopped with a par at the 16th.

On the par-five 17th, Horschel's second shot landed on the green. He then two-putted for birdie to move to 12-under. He was already alone in the lead when he posted another birdie at No. 18.

"I played really solid," he said. "The goal today was to make no bogeys. I didn't know I was leading.

"I am just out there trying to do my thing and hopefully things will go my way.

"That putt on 18 was a bonus."

Second-round leader Sergio Garcia of Spain stumbled to a two-over 72 and fell into sixth place at 204.

A struggling Phil Mickelson withdrew before the third round started, ending his PGA Tour season, and Keegan Bradley also pulled out, citing a possible rules violation regarding a drop he took during the first round.

"I just feel withdrawing is the right thing to do to protect the field in the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship next week," Bradley said.

"It's eating me alive. I know the official approved the drop, but I just can't be absolutely sure it was the right spot."

Because Bradley will earn no points from the BMW Championship, he is in danger of dropping out of the top 30 players who advance to the next week's Tour Championship. After three rounds, he is projected to be in 33rd spot.

Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship (par 70, USA unless noted):

197 - Billy Horschel 68-66-63
200 - Ryan Palmer 69-64-67
202 - Bubba Watson 70-66-66, Martin Kaymer (GER) 68-70-64
203 - Rickie Fowler 71-66-66
204 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 68-64-72
205 - Jim Furyk 70-68-67, Graham DeLaet (CAN) 68-68-69, Jordan Spieth 67-70-68
206 - Adam Scott (AUS) 71-66-69, J.B. Holmes 71-68-67, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-67-72, Morgan Hoffmann 72-72-62, Chesson Hadley 68-70-68
207 - Bill Haas 72-68-67, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 69-67-71
208 - Ben Crane 70-70-68, Ernie Els (RSA) 70-69-69, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 72-66-70, Jimmy Walker 72-67-69, Gary Woodland 67-73-68, Noh Seung-Yul (KOR) 70-71-67

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