CHARLOTTE – Quail Hollow was truly gettable for the first time of the week and all the big names wanted a piece of the action Saturday in Round 3 at Quail Hollow.
Jason Day was the man on top once the dust settled from a frantic moving day at the Wells Fargo Championship, his 4-under 67 good for a two-shot lead over Nick Watney going into the final round.
The former World No. 1 has fallen all the way to 14th since he lost the title to Dustin Johnson at the Genesis Open in February, 2017, but he’s in position to earn his second victory of the season and move closer to reclaiming the crown.
Day had a handful of top-10 finishes and one runner-up. It was quite a regression from the guy who won five times, including the PGA Championship, in 2015.
Motivation was an issue. When you’ve reached the pinnacle, what else is left to play for? That’s natural and something Day said Saturday is behind him, a new focus and goal laid out in font of him.
“I’ve kind of recommitted myself to try to get back to No. 1,” Day said. “I know that there’s a bunch of players in front of me that are trying to do the exact same thing and guys behind me trying to do the same thing. So I’ve got to get up every morning and do everything I possibly can to get back to that ultimate goal of getting back to No. 1. Weeks like this improve it. I’ve just got to focus. If it doesn’t work out tomorrow or if it does work out tomorrow, the bigger picture is No. 1.”
The heavy hitters brought energy to the grounds right out of the gate early Saturday morning. Phil Mickelson shot 7-under 64 to get to 5 under for the week. Rory McIlroy shot 5-under 66 and Tiger Woods carded a 3-under 68.
The par-3 tees were mostly up and players were able to fire at pins that proved problematic earlier in the week.
Peter Uihlein carded a career-best 9-under 62 to move to 7 under, just three shots off the lead and tied with Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey and Aaron Wise.
Master champ Patrick Reed joined the mix with a 4-under 67 to get to 4 under, and he sits T-11 next to Rickie Fowler.
Peter Malnati, the 54-hole leader, fell back with a 4-over 75, and a leaderboard which lacked early star power is suddenly rich with recognizability as Day looks to close out another victory and move closer to his newfound goal.
“I really do things are close,” Day said. “Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it. Sometimes wish it finished today, because obviously you’re walking out a champion. But I’m just taking tomorrow that I’ve got to try and extend that lead every single time I’m up against someone. If they have a birdie, I’ve got to try and somehow make a birdie to extend it and hopefully don’t give them any sort of opening where they can kind of close the door on me.”