HUMBLE, Texas — Even as the clouds rolled in at the Houston Open, Stewart Cink started to see some light in his game.
Cink saved par from the bunker on the 18th hole Saturday at Redstone Golf Club for a 4-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Bill Haas going into the final round. Cink is winless in 81 starts since the 2009 British Open. This is his first time with at least a share of the third-round lead in nearly five years. And it doesn’t figure to be easy.
One week after he shared the 36-hole lead at Bay Hill, Haas made seven birdies over his last 13 holes for a 67 and was tied with Cink at 11-under 205.
Twenty players were within four shots. Only three of them — Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and John Merrick — have won on the PGA Tour in the last year. And 12 of them can earn a trip to the Masters by winning.
Steve Wheatcroft, the journeyman who only got into this tournament through a Monday qualifier, got off to a good start and fell back with an embarrassing finish. Wheatcroft was tied for the lead when he shanked a shot from the greenside bunker on the 18th, the ball coming out at a 45-degree angle, over the green and almost into the gallery.
He made a 15-foot putt to salvage bogey for a 72. Wheatcroft still was only one shot out of the lead, along with Ben Crane (67), D.A. Points (71) and Jason Kokrak (71).
Rory McIlroy had a chance to join the mix. Swinging more freely, the world’s No. 2 player was poised to reach 6 under for the tournament with a superb bunker shot to 5 feet for birdie on the 13th hole.
He settled for a 71 and was nine shots behind.
PGA EUROPEAN: Germany’s Marcel Siem shot a 3-under 69 to extend his lead to four shots after the third round of the European Tour’s Hassan II Trophy.
The French Open champion had a 15-under 201 total at Golf du Palais Royal. He needs a victory today to have a chance to get into the top 50 in the world and earn a spot in the Masters.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, England’s David Horsey and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal were tied for second.