LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – George McNeill closed with a double-bogey Saturday and will share the lead with three others entering the final round of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.
McNeill overcame a five-shot deficit and made two eagles on a cool day at Disney World that made greens fast but easy to reach. He shot a 3-under 69 that left him tied at 203 with Justin Leonard (71), Justin Rose (69) and Mathias Gronberg (66) after three rounds.
McNeill kept his poise after two early bogeys. He gave back three strokes on the final two holes, including a double-bogey on the 18th.
McNeill found trouble from the outset. His first shot of the day hooked past the brush and into the trees, forcing him to take a drop before guiding the ball 20 feet from the hole. McNeill two-putted for bogey but gained six strokes back on six holes later in the round.
McNeill sank a 34-foot putt for eagle on the 10th and made a 30-footer for another eagle on the 14th. Then things went sour – again.
After bogeying on the 17th, McNeill’s final drive landed out of play. He took a drop before missing a 10-foot bogey putt to take the lead into the final round.
Leonard, the leader after two rounds, had his troubles as well. He had a five-shot lead after five holes and seemed as if he were going to run away with the tournament. But one hole did him in. His drive on the 11th sliced way right, bounced off the cart path and splashed into the water. He was able to fade the next shot 30 feet from the pin and two-putted for bogey.
Only those who finish in the top 125 on the money list are guaranteed full status. The next 25 will at least get conditional status and be able to enter more than a dozen tournaments.
Rich Beem was among those in danger. The 2002 PGA Championship winner shot a 68, but he is projected to finish No. 128 on the money list unless he improves in the final round.
Jeff Maggert and Ricky Barnes stayed inside the cut line with solid rounds. Barnes, who tied for a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, shot a 71 Saturday.