DUBLIN, Ohio – The last time Spencer Levin had the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, the almost inconceivable happened.
Levin took a six-shot lead into Sunday in Phoenix, but it wilted into a two-shot defeat to Kyle Stanley at the Waste Management Open.
The California kid will have a chance at redemption and a first PGA Tour win at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday. Levin carded a third-round best 69 to lead the tournament by a shot over Rory Sabbatini at 8 under par.
In the driver's seat after three rounds for the second time this season, Levin is not certain how he will handle it.
'I'll be able to answer that tomorrow when I get done,' he said.
In Phoenix, an unlucky break eventually led to his undoing. Finding a cactus at the 15th hole of the final round, Levin was forced to putt his ball out of the way. For his effort, he was stuck by the prickly plant before making a disastrous double-bogey seven.
On Saturday, in a city sharing the name with the Irish capital, he was much luckier.
'I had some really good breaks, so I'll take it,' he said. 'If you're going to shoot the low round of the day out here on the Tour, or any day, you're going to have a couple of good breaks or make long putts or chip in.'
Levin had all of that in his round. He chipped in for eagle at the par-5 fifth to jump out to the lead alone. He saved par at the eighth despite misreading his putt, then snaked in a 15-foot par bid he did not expect at the penultimate hole.
Turning 28 in 12 days, Levin could give himself the perfect birthday present with a win.
The victory would afford him enough Official World Golf Ranking points to easily crack the top 60 by the June 11 cutoff and land him in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Even in defeat, an Open berth would be a consolation prize if he finishes in the top three.
The exemption would also give him Monday off, as he is currently committed to play in the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier in town.
He could, instead, reciprocate a favor done by his caddie this week and friend, Jon Turcott. Turcott will be playing 45 minutes away in Springfield, Ohio. He practiced on Wednesday and Saturday morning.
'He's a good player,' Levin said, 'and we seem to get along pretty good. I enjoy his company.'