A slow-lifting fog and slow-moving players conspired Saturday to make for one of Singh's toughest days in weeks, yet his ability to turn bad lies into good shots helped him to an even-par 72 that kept him in the 84 Lumber Classic lead.
"I didn't play as well as I did the first two days," said Singh, who started 64-68 at the 7,471-yard Mystic Rock course. "My rhythm wasn't there. I was struggling to find it all day. But I still lead by two, so I'm not that disappointed."
Even when it doesn't come so easily, Singh is difficult to knock out of the lead.
Repeatedly following poor shots with exceptional ones on a day when some of his best play came merely to save par, Singh finished at 12-under 204 to lead Chris DiMarco by two shots and Jonathan Byrd and Matt Gogel by three entering Sunday's final round.
Singh can break Woods' single-season money record of $9.1 million set in 2000 by winning the $756,000 first prize, or, if he plays in two late-season no-cut tournaments that offer guaranteed
money, by finishing second.
Heavy fog shrouded the mountaintop resort course for the third straight morning, forcing a delay in play and the decision to go
out in threesomes rather than twosomes. That meant some players,
including Singh, started earlier than expected so the finish could
Play lagged all day as a result, with Singh, DiMarco and Ben
Curtis needing 5 hours and 20 minutes for their round -- about 80
minutes slower than usual. That's why Singh wasn't surprised when
the quality of play dropped off late in the afternoon, too.
"The pace of play was strained," Singh said. "You play the
holes and then you wait 10 minutes on the next tee. ... I called it
[to the attention] of the official on the 10th hole, and it didn't
seem to help much."
DiMarco also disliked the pace, and the decision to play in
"We would have finished before (Friday's ending time) easily in
twosomes," he said. "But they wanted to get it in, and I think TV
wanted a certain time, too. That was the ultimate decision."
DiMarco, one of only three U.S. team members competing after
last weekend's Ryder Cup wipeout in suburban Detroit, repeatedly
tried to make a move at Singh. But Singh held him off each time
despite being in the 70s for only the second time in 11 rounds.
"It makes you aware you can take nothing for granted," Singh
said of an uneven round that included three bogeys, two more than
in his first two rounds combined. "If you're not careful, it can
grab up and bite you."
DiMarco's bark was better than his bite. Three birdies on the
front side seemed a portend of a possible big day, but DiMarco
bogeyed the last two holes and three of the final five to settle
for a one-under 71 that cut only one shot off the three-shot lead
Singh brought into the third round.
Singh's lead was down to one after he bogeyed No. 11, but
DiMarco gave a stroke back with a bogey at the par-4 14th. Singh
got up and down from the fringe to save par on the par-4 15th, then
made an even better recovery at the par-5, 526-yard 16th.
After hitting his second shot into the water, Singh needed to
chip in from 25 feet along the right front fringe to save par -- and
did exactly that, avoiding a two-shot swing on a hole DiMarco
Singh bogeyed the par-3 17th by driving into the pot bunker
placed strategically in the middle of the green and missing a
12-footer, but DiMarco missed his 8-footer for par and also
Singh couldn't make an 8-footer for birdie on No. 18, yet
DiMarco again failed to take advantage. He made an excellent
recovery after hooking his drive onto a steep upward slope far to
the left of the fairway, but couldn't make a 10-foot par putt.
"Thankfully, Vijay didn't run away with the tournament,"
DiMarco said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have finished
par-par and been right there with him. But nobody really did