Davis Love III - fueled by two eagles and three birdies - made a third-round move Saturday at the Freeport McMoRan Classic in hopes of winning a trip to The Masters.
Despite a bogey on the 14th hole Saturday, Love was in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead in the rain-delayed tournament. He was 13-under-par after a 66."I got my confidence going with my putter and didn't worry about it," he said. "I wished we could have kept going. I was hitting it real good."
Steve Jones was a shot back when play was called because of darkness. Jones is coming back after being sidelined for almost three years with injuries, including ligament damage to two fingers in his right hand that forces him to use a reverse, overlap grip.
Six players had not completed their rounds when play was called. Among them were Mike Standly and David Duval, 11-under through 15 holes. They were tied for third place with David Peoples, who completed the round at with a 6-under-par 66.
"I could hear the crowd following Davis," Jones said. "You'd hear them cheer and say, `There's Davis making a birdie,' or `There's Davis making an eagle.' They were really pulling for him."
The happy crowd following Love also was shouting "Masters, Masters, Masters."
They were hoping to see him put his crushing defeat at The Players Championship last week behind him with a victory that would get him to Augusta. Love was leading at the TPC only to lose it with a double-bogey on the 17th hole.
"The crowd was really excited about my being in contention," he said. "They acted more like it was Sunday than Saturday. They're hoping I can do it, but nobody's hoping for it more than me."
The rain that pounded players over the first two days of the tournament gave way to bright sunshine Saturday morning. The second round was completed in the morning, with 71 players - half the field - finishing up.
The cut was at 143. Included in those not making it were defending champion Ben Crenshaw (147) and defending Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal (144).
The third round began from from tees on both the front and back sides, and was suspended at dark. It was to be finished Sunday morning before the final round begins.
Having played his best round of the tournament, Love said there was nothing to do but wait and see if his final chance at The Masters this year turns out better than previous tournaments.
"I'm not going to put myself under pressure or let anyone else put me under pressure," he said.
At Scottsdale, Ariz., two-time Tradition champion Jack Nicklaus and second-round leader Isao Aoki birdied the final hole Saturday to move one stroke ahead of the field three rounds into the $1 million Senior PGA major.
Nicklaus reached the 531-yard finishing hole of the Cochise Course he designed at Desert Mountain in two and two-putted from about 60 feet for a 3-under-par 69 and a 7-under 209 overall.
Aoki, playing in the next threesome, chipped up for a 3-foot birdie putt, his sixth of the day. Until then, he was 1-over for the round after recording two double bogeys and two bogeys in the first 16 holes.
Jim Ferree, who led after the first round, Jay Sigel and Jim Colbert were just off the lead at 210, with Gary Player two shots off the pace and 1992 winner Lee Trevino, Jimmy Powell and Larry Gilbert at 212.
Defending champion Ray Floyd, Rocky Thompson, Bob Murphy, Garham Marsh and Calvin Peete made it 14 players within four shots of the lead going into the final round.
Nicklaus, who won the Tradition in 1990 and 1991, struggled early, with bogeys on the first and seventh holes.
But he birdied four of the next six holes to become only the second player in the tournament to reach 7-under.
About the same time, Aoki birdied No. 12 and took a one-shot lead at 8-under.
But Nicklaus bogeyed No. 14, and Aoki double-bogeyed it, and both fell back into a pack of leaders at 6-under until the last hole.
The day before, Player praised Aoki, who has won 62 titles worldwide, as the world's best irons player "from 100 yards in." It was ironic Aoki's short game deserted him within 24 hours.
He had a double bogey-5 on No. 7, shere he missed the island green and dropped his tee shot in the water. And on the par-4 14th, he pulled his drive left, chipped out and still left it behind trees, reached heavy grass in front of the green and didn't get on until his fifth shot. Then he had to sink a 6-foot putt to save a double bogey.