MADISON, Miss. (AP) — Daniel Summerhays had to think about his upcoming birdie putt on the 18th hole for 1 hour, 17 minutes before finally stepping on the green.
It was worth the wait.
The 29-year-old Summerhays nailed his 19-foot birdie putt after thunderstorms rolled through Annandale Golf Club, tying Nicholas Thompson for the lead going into the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship on Saturday.
Summerhays came into the third round with a four-stroke lead, but his 3-under 69 allowed the field to catch up on a course that is giving up plenty of birdies thanks to calm conditions, soft fairways and forgiving greens.
“It was just a scrappy round,” Summerhays said. “The shots I did hit good, I was just missing on the putts. They were those putts where your eyes get big and then you’re disappointed. But that’s golf.”
It was a long day for Summerhays, who said he had to get up before 5 a.m. and played 28 holes Saturday after also completing his second round because of weather delays Thursday and Friday.
It was a strange scene on his final putt. The heavy thunderstorms had chased all the fans home early and only a few tournament officials were hanging around the green when Summerhays made his putt. His caddie didn’t even have his bag, simply clutching the putter head cover.
After Summerhays made it, he raised his club and acknowledged the imaginary crowd before laughing with his caddie.
Summerhays — along with Vaughn Taylor and Fabian Gomez — were the only three players who had to go through the delay.
Summerhays and Thompson will both be going for their first PGA Tour win Sunday. Summerhays had the lead going into the final round last week in the John Deere Classic, but fell back to fourth — a shot out of a playoff after a closing bogey. He hoped that experience would help Sunday.
“The more you’re in that situation, you know how to deal with it when it comes,” Summerhays said. “Because (the nerves) will come. No matter what tournament you’re playing, if you’re playing to win, you’re going to be nervous.”
Thompson bogeyed his first hole in the third round, but was nearly flawless after that with a 65 to reach 17 under. Thompson is trying for his first PGA Tour win and would join sister Lexi as only the third brother-sister combo to win on the LPGA and PGA Tours.
Chad Campbell, Cameron Beckman, Woody Austin and Kyle Reifers were two strokes back.
Campbell shot a 65 to jump back into contention. He won at Annandale in 2007, which was his last victory on the PGA Tour.
The 49-year-old Austin led for much of the third round, but had two bogeys in the final six holes — including on 18 — for a 67. The 18th hole — a 532-yard, par 5 — is routinely one of the easiest on the course, but Austin’s third shot flew over the green and close to the grandstand.
He had to take a drop and play his third shot from deep rough, which fell short of the green. Then his next chip went well past the hole and he missed a lengthy par putt.
Beckman shot 65, and Reifers had a 67.
The stage is set for a Sunday shootout, with eight players within three shots of the lead on a forgiving course that’s giving up plenty of birdies. Campbell said he expected the crowded leaderboard.
“It’s always the way it seems around here,” Campbell said. “It just seems like it always gets log jammed around 10 or 15 … A lot of guys have a chance to win.”
It remains to be seen how Annandale is affected by a thunderstorm that dropped heavy rain Saturday evening.
“I don’t know what scores it’s going to take,” Thompson said. “But it’s going to be a good one. Guys are going low.”
Annandale has a history with rainy weather. The entire tournament was cancelled in 2009 after about a dozen inches of rain fell.
Thompson is playing his first full season on the PGA Tour since 2010. He’s 105th on the money list and has one top-10 finish at the Humana Challenge in January.
He had a long day on Saturday, playing 27 holes because he also had to finish his second round. But he didn’t seem to mind, shooting 13 under during that span.
Thompson finished 12th last week in the John Deere.
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