Sweet Round Gives Sauers Lead
Steve Lowery, the runner-up in last year's event, made five birdies and one double-bogey in a 3-under 68. He finished alone in fourth at 11-under 202, while Kevin Sutherland (69) and second-round leader Craig Barlow shared fifth place at minus 10.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke birdied five of his first six holes on the way to a 66 that matched Sauers and Brandt Jobe for low round of the day at Northview Golf & Country Club. Clarke jumped from 38th place into a tie for seventh at 8-under with Blaine McCallister (70) and David Gossett (72).
Vijay Singh, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 9 in the world, rounded out the top-10 as part of a 10-man logjam that included Jobe, defending champion Joel Edwards and 2000 Air Canada winner Rory Sabbatini. The group finished six shots off the pace at 7-under-par.
Sauers, who started Saturday's play two strokes off the lead, began his climb to the top of the leaderboard with a 25-foot birdie putt at the third hole followed by three straight birdies from the fifth to the seventh.
In between clubs with his approach to the par-4 10th, Sauers chose a 9-iron but came up short of the green. He chipped up then missed a 10-foot par putt for his first dropped shot since his initial hole of the tournament, ending a streak of 44 bogey-free holes.
Sauers immediately struck back at the 157-yard, par-3 11th hole, where he knocked a 9-iron to 25 feet and rolled in the birdie to return to 12-under. He moved to 13-under at the par-5 12th after he blasted his third shot out of a bunker and sank an eight-footer for birdie.
Sauers, who turned 40 last week, was a regular in the top-50 on the PGA Tour money list from 1986, the year he won his first title at the Bank of Boston Classic, until 1992. He also captured the 1989 Hawaiian Open and the 1990 Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic, which was an unofficial event.
His last full year on the PGA Tour was 1996. Sauers made 16 of 25 cuts that season but raked in only $123,904 to finish 148th in earnings.
'I haven't played in that many regular tour events this year or in the past lately because I lost my card and I kind of got tired with the game,' said the Georgia native, who has competed on the Buy.Com Tour since 1997 and won its 1998 South Carolina Classic.
'I wasn't happy out here, the way I was hitting it. I was hitting it in the rough, and you can't play golf out of the rough. It really got frustrating. Now I have some new irons, a new driver and I am hitting the fairways. Things are looking back up again.'
Sauers, who has finished in the top-10 in his last two starts on the Buy.Com Tour, made three previous appearances on the 2002 PGA Tour -- all in July. He tied for 48th in both the Greater Milwaukee Open and B.C. Open, then tied for 40th at the John Deere Classic.
Should he hold on and win on Sunday, Sauers would collect $630,000, nearly $200,000 more than he made in his best full season. He would also earn a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
'I haven't had my tour card for the last six or seven years and it's nice to come out here and have that opportunity,' Sauers said. 'I don't really want to go back to (PGA Tour Qualifying) school, so let's hope that I can put it all together tomorrow and not have to worry about that.'
Allenby, who fired a course-record 63 en route to a second-place finish at last week's WGC-NEC Invitational near Seattle, continued to go low this week with a career-best 62 in Friday's second round. Despite two early bogeys on Saturday, Allenby kept in touch with the leaders with four birdies on the back nine.
'The front nine wasn't the best of starts,' admitted Allenby, 31, who dropped shots at the second and fifth holes but managed a birdie at the third. 'I mentally turned it around on the back nine and they are the thoughts I need to take into tomorrow.'
Allenby chipped and putted from short range for birdie at the par-5 12th, then picked up another shot with a 12-footer for birdie at the 14th. He closed with birdies on the last two holes, first knocking a pitching wedge to six feet at the 17th then rolling in a 25-foot putt at the 18th.
'I was a good way to finish,' he said.
Lonard, a three-time winner on the Australasian Tour who is in the midst of a successful rookie campaign on the PGA Tour, produced a pair of eagles Saturday in a round that also included four bogeys and three birdies.
'I sort of bungled through,' Lonard said. 'I was lucky enough to make a couple eagles on the par-5s.'
The 35-year-old Aussie drained a 90-foot putt at the 584-yard seventh. He later secured a less improbable eagle when he struck a 3-wood shot to six feet at the 548-yard 12th. He is a combined 10-under on the par-5s this week.
Lonard added a 20-foot birdie putt at the 13th and a three-foot birdie at the 15th to tie Sauers for the lead at 13-under-par. He three-putted from 50 feet for bogey at the 17th, however, missing his par putt from four feet.
Lonard has yet to miss a cut in 20 starts on the 2002 PGA Tour.
'I think I'm getting closer,' said Lonard, who has three top-10 finishes and 10 others in the top-25 this season. 'The more I hang around and knock on the door, one day the door will open, and I'll swing past and get one.'
Full-field scores from the Air Canada Championship
Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...
Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.
Not a fun start for Rory.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 23, 2018
Golf is hard. pic.twitter.com/DLq647mbHA
McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.
Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue
Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.
However, he never saw it go in.
Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.
A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.
Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.
Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.
Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.
Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.
''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''
Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.
''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''
Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.
''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''
The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.
''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''
Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.
''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''
Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.
Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.
''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''
She won the 2016 event at Aviara.
''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''
Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.
Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.
With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia
Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.
She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.
A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.
Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.
Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.
“It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”
Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.
“They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.
Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.
“It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.
Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.
A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.
“One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”
Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.
“Just good for me,” Kim said.