The PGA Tour should be in for a good finish to a nice rebound week on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship. The combination of Tiger Woods' absence and some unknown first-time winners have made the first half of the season a bit underwhelming, and that ennui crested last week at TPC Louisiana.
The annual stop at Quail Hollow always brings out the biggest names in the game, and with Woods on the shelf, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are the banner guys in the game. Fortunately for the Tour, both of those superstars made a huge push on Saturday to get in the mix with just 18 more holes to play at one of the great non-major tournaments of the year.
Mickelson played a six-hole stretch in 7-under on the front nine on Saturday, going out in 29 and rocketing to the top of the leaderboard. When the day was over, he settled for 11-under and solo third, just two shots back of J.B. Holmes. It was a dramatic push by Mickelson, who was done with his third round at the start of the CBS broadcast on Saturday but will now play in the penultimate group on Sunday with Kevin Kisner. They go off at 1:30 p.m. ET and unless Phil implodes on the front nine, his every shot should be shown during the Golf Channel and CBS coverage windows.
This tournament has been just what Mickelson needed after a lackluster first four months to the year. The season typically starts fast for Phil, who often gets a win or at least continually contends during the west coast swing and the pre-Masters slate. But he's not been a factor so far, a mix of injuries and inconsistent play keeping him off the weekend leaderboards or out of the weekend altogether. The third round, however, was vintage Phil as he got hot in all phases to break 30 yet again. On a redesigned course that he called "perfect" at the start of the week, he's got to be the favorite at the start of the final round.
McIlroy is also back in it after an early Saturday round of 65, which pushed him almost 50 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie for 11th place. He's still seven shots back of the leader Holmes, but as we saw here in 2010 in his first career PGA Tour win, McIlroy can go real low and close the gap in a hurry. He set the course record with a round of 62 that day, a number that would almost certainly get him another win at this coveted Charlotte tournament. At 6-under, he'll be out less than an hour before the leaders and given the birdie opportunities on the front nine, there's a realistic chance he makes a run and puts the pressure on before Holmes and Martin Flores ever hit a shot on Sunday. He tees off with Mark Wilson at 12:50 p.m. ET.
In addition to Mickelson and McIlroy, a handful of other big names are in the mix at the bottom of the tee sheet on Sunday. Martin Kaymer, who says he's finally settling in to a multi-year swing overhaul, is within striking distance at 8-under. The defending U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose, also appears to be over that early season injury and inconsistency, and is in the third-to-last group just four shots off the pace set by Holmes.
This is always one of the better tournaments of the year, and after last year's dud, it appears we're in for a nice rebound Sunday. With the season's fifth major and the PGA Tour's marquee event up next, a shootout between some of the game's biggest names is just what the Tour needs. Here's the full tee sheet for Sunday's final round:
|8:03 AM||Brian Harman|
|8:09 AM||Bronson La'Cassie||Cameron Tringale|
|8:18 AM||Josh Teater||Kevin Tway|
|8:27 AM||Brian Davis||Kyle Stanley|
|8:36 AM||Justin Hicks||Ted Potter, Jr.|
|8:45 AM||Heath Slocum||Jim Renner|
|8:54 AM||Carl Pettersson||Rickie Fowler|
|9:03 AM||Robert Allenby||Johnson Wagner|
|9:12 AM||Davis Love III||Ryan Moore|
|9:21 AM||Jason Kokrak||Hunter Mahan|
|9:30 AM||Jim Herman||Will Wilcox|
|9:39 AM||David Hearn||Y.E. Yang|
|9:48 AM||Retief Goosen||Bill Haas|
|9:57 AM||Daniel Summerhays||Michael Putnam|
|10:06 AM||Scott Brown||Sang-Moon Bae|
|10:15 AM||Rory Sabbatini||Hideki Matsuyama|
|10:24 AM||Kevin Chappell||Mike Weir|
|10:33 AM||Andrew Svoboda||Brendan Steele|
|10:42 AM||Shawn Stefani||Ben Martin|
|10:51 AM||Martin Laird||Stewart Cink|
|11:00 AM||Scott Langley||Chris Kirk|
|11:10 AM||Vijay Singh||Kevin Streelman|
|11:20 AM||Bud Cauley||Danny Lee|
|11:30 AM||Robert Streb||Ricky Barnes|
|11:40 AM||Derek Ernst||Webb Simpson|
|11:50 AM||Wes Roach||John Merrick|
|12:00 PM||Angel Cabrera||Gary Woodland|
|12:10 PM||Jim Furyk||Charles Howell III|
|12:20 PM||Zach Johnson||Roberto Castro|
|12:30 PM||Brendon de Jonge||Kevin Na|
|12:40 PM||Pat Perez||Ernie Els|
|12:50 PM||Rory McIlroy||Mark Wilson|
|1:00 PM||Michael Thompson||Geoff Ogilvy|
|1:10 PM||Martin Kaymer||Jonathan Byrd|
|1:20 PM||Jason Bohn||Justin Rose|
|1:30 PM||Phil Mickelson||Kevin Kisner|
|1:40 PM||J.B. Holmes||Martin Flores|