(Reuters) – Scottie Scheffler survived a rocky finish to tie fellow American Andrew Landry for the third-round lead at the American Express tournament in California on Saturday.
Scheffler and Landry opened a four-stroke buffer over their nearest rival, Rickie Fowler, on a day of low scoring in perfect conditions in the southern California desert.
Scheffler rode his luck at the par-four 18th at the PGA West Stadium course in La Quinta.
His tee shot appeared headed for a watery grave left of the fairway, and he was mightily relieved when his ball struck rocks lining the lake and somehow ricocheted back onto the fairway.
He salvaged par for a six-under-par 66, while Landry wielded a hot putter for a 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course to tie it up at 21-under 195.
“I was just trying to hit a little draw three-wood and I drew it a lot,” said a relieved Scheffler of his final tee shot.
“It was a great break bouncing off the rocks like that. I guess you take them where you can get them.”
After playing three different courses, everyone will be on equal footing for the final round at PGA West on Sunday, when Landry will be vying for his second PGA Tour win and Scheffler his first.
Landry, who lost in a playoff to Jon Rahm two years ago, is feeling at home in a happy hunting ground.
“I’ve been putting absolutely beautifully and everything’s been there,” 32-year-old Landry said.
“My wedge play’s been there, the putting’s there I just need to go out and do it again tomorrow.
“I’ve had some success here in the past and I know what to do. Scottie and I are friends. It’s going to be very comfortable out there.”
Fowler, who hails from nearby Murrieta, began his day poorly with two front nine bogeys before fighting back to give himself an outside chance of a Sunday challenge.
“A couple of mental errors cost me,” he said.
“I really struggled to get going early. (The greens) were a bit slower than the last two days and I didn’t have anything go in until the ninth hole but did a good job of hanging around, not getting too far behind.
“I had to grind it out and put ourselves at least in a position where we can play well tomorrow and still have a chance.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Daniel Wallis)