Billy Mayfair kept the ball in play Saturday in the Quail Hollow Championship at Charlotte, N.C., and also kept the lead, shooting a 1-under 71 to take a two-shot lead over Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Carolina favorite Davis Love III.
A victory would be his first since the 1998 Buick Open, and the first time a Monday qualifier won on the PGA Tour since Fred Wadsworth in the 1986 Southern Open.
"Today was a real test for me," Mayfair said. "I kept it going for 18 holes and still have the lead going into tomorrow."
It is hard for Mayfair not to get caught up in the possibilities.
He lost his PGA Tour card after the worst season of his career, and a victory would sure take care of that. He only got into Quail Hollow because of a Monday qualifier that he almost missed. Mayfair was late arriving in Charlotte, had to race to the course to make his tee time and then shot a 65, his best score of the year.
All that's left is to hold off Mickelson, Love and a collection of players who have won far more recently than Mayfair.
"I've got to put it out of my mind," he said. "I've got to use my 21 years of experiences out here, and I've got to say, 'You know what? I've been out here.' I'm a tour veteran, I've got a lot of veterans that are chasing me. I've been doing this for a long time, and I know what I need to do tomorrow and how to handle it. And try to do the best I can."
He has been good enough so far, finishing three rounds at 9-under 207. It's his first 54-hole lead in four years.
Mickelson, in his first start since winning a third green jacket, overcame food poisoning at the start of the week and a few errant shots to put himself in a great position to join a strong list of champions at Quail Hollow. He birdied the par 5s on the back nine, and he closed with a tough two-putt from 60 feet for a 71.
"For as beautifully designed as this golf course is tee to green, the greens are by far the worst designed greens we play on tour," Mickelson said. "Even though they're in immaculate shape, I would say that 18 would be the worst green that we have on tour, except that it's not even the worst on this golf course — 12 is."
Tres Marias Championship — Ai Miyazato moved into position for her third victory of the season, shooting a 2-under 71 to take a one-stroke lead over long-hitting playing partners Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome at Morelia, Mexico.
Miyazato, the Japanese star who won the season-opening events in Thailand and Singapore, had a 13-under 206 total at Tres Marias Country Club.
Wie, a stroke ahead after two rounds, shot a 73, and Lincicome had a 72 in windy conditions on the mountainside course. Wie won her lone LPGA Tour title 5 1/2 months ago in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Ochoa's hometown of Guadalajara.
Ochoa, the top-ranked star retiring after the tournament to raise a family and work on her charity foundation, was sixth at 10 under after a 70.
Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic— David Frost shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday to equal the course record and join Brad Bryant and David Eger atop the Champions Tour leaderboard at Saucier, Miss.
Bryant, who had a one-shot lead heading to the final hole, bogeyed 18 for his second consecutive 68. Eger also shot a 68 in the second round at Fallen Oak Golf Club.
Jay Haas (68) was in fourth, two shots off the pace, and Tom Kite, Joey Sindelar, Roid Spittle and Tommy Armour III were at 5 under.