Scott Simpson converted a record-breaking effort into a four-stroke lead Saturday as the weather-troubled Southwestern Bell Colonial finally got back on schedule.
Simpson, playing almost flawless golf on a rain-soaked Colonial Country Club course, put together a bogey-free, 6-under-par 64 and matched the largest 54-hole lead of the season on the PGA Tour.His 195 total was 15 under par, broke the old course and tournament scoring record of 197, set last year by Fulton Allem and Greg Norman, and four shots better than Gary Hallberg, who had a third-round 65.
It also gave Simpson, the 1987 U.S. Open champion, a shot at the 72-hole record in the tournament Ben Hogan won five times: 264. Simpson needs a 69 in Sunday's final round to match that total, and he hasn't been that high yet.
The weather, which disrupted the tournament schedule for three days, was at least partially responsible for the extremely low scoring on the tough old track on the banks of the Trinity, but took nothing away from Simpson's dominance.
With the course saturated from a series of thunderstorms, players were allowed to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway.
"Anytime you let players of this caliber get their hands on the ball, and you have a course that is soft, low scoring is going to be the result," veteran Hale Irwin said.
Only Hallberg could keep the runaway leader in sight.
"Four shots is not a lot out here," Hallberg said, looking ahead to Sunday's final round.
Then, however, he viewed the man he is chasing.
"He's a very machine-like player," Hallberg said of Simpson. "He's very steady. He gets in a groove and he just stays in it, like a machine. He's in a zone, very focused."
No one else was within six strokes of Simpson.
Tom Lehman, a runaway winner last week in the Memorial tournament, was third alone at 201 after 69.
Irwin, 48, among the 53 players who played the second round in the morning then turned around immediately for the third round, hit into the water on his 36th hole of the day and was tied at 202 with Nick Price and Ken Green.
Phil Mickelson, making his first start since breaking his left leg in a March skiing accident, slipped to a 71 and was out of title contention at 207.
In Malvern, Pa., Lee Trevino birdied two of the last three holes in a 3-under-par 67 Saturday and held a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Bell Atlantic Classic.
Tommy Aaron shot a 68, and Jim Dent had a 71 to stay within one shot of Trevino, who was at 138 after two rounds.
In Corning, N.Y., Nancy Ramsbottom, answering a challenge to her lead at the LPGA Corning Classic, had a hole-in-one Saturday as she emerged from the third round with a two-stroke advantage.
Ramsbottom, a non-winner in 10 years on the LPGA Tour, holed a 7-wood on the par-3, 186-yard third hole at the Corning Country Club. The ball landed about 15 feet short of the pin and rolled into the cup.
Ramsbottom had led since Thursday but fell into a first-place tie when playing partner Martha Nause birdied No. 2. After the hole-in-one, Ramsbottom played steady, par golf to finish at 1-under 71 for a 54-hole total of 10-under 206.