MEMPHIS, June 11, 2011 (AFP) - Sweden's Robert Karlsson finished with back-to-back bogeys but clung to a one-stroke lead over American Harrison Frazar after Saturday's third round of the US PGA St. Jude Classic.
Karlsson, who at one stage had stretched his lead from three shots after 36 holes to six strokes, settled for a two-under par 68 to complete 54 holes on 11-under 199, one shot atop Frazar, who birdied three of the last four holes.
"I played a solid round of golf so I'm pretty happy," Karlsson said. "I'm looking forward to it tomorrow. It's important not to get ahead of yourself, to keep playing. It's a new round tomorrow and I will keep going with it."
Frazar and two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen each fired 64s to charge up the leaderboard ahead of the final tournament round before next week's US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
"Playing really solid," Goosen said. "Need to get another round like this in tomorrow to get a chance to catch him."
American John Merrick was third on 202 with Goosen another stroke back and Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson and American Keegan Bradley on 204.
Karlsson has won 11 times worldwide but seeks his first US PGA triumph, as does Frazar, who has been a PGA runner-up four times in his career. Either could become the seventh first-time US PGA winner of the year.
"It has been a while (but) it's not like this is all new," Frazar said. "We're all going to need (Karlsson) to make a mistake and play good rounds ourselves."
Karlsson could become the first player since Japan's Ryuji Imada in the 2007 and 2008 AT&T Classics to win a title after losing in a playoff the prior year. Karlsson lost a playoff that went four holes to England's Lee Westwood.
This is the first full US season for Karlsson, who needed only 11 events last year to finish in the PGA top 125 to earn a card for 2011.
Karlsson birdied the par-5 third and par-3 fourth holes, added another at the par-4 sixth, then parred eight in a row before a birdie at the par-4 15th.
But Karlsson took a bogey at the par-4 17th, finding a greenside bunker and missing a 14-foot par putt, and another at 18, leaving his third shot seven yards off the green.
"I'm very, very happy with where I am at the moment," Karlsson said. "You are going to make a mistake here and there. It's a long, long way to go still."
Frazar, who had missed five cuts in a row, improved his play after back trouble forced him off for several weeks for therapy.
"I went back home bound and determined to find a way to hit the ball better," he said. "I was able to take the time and start working on the right things."
The work paid off with his fantastic finish, including a 42-foot birdie putt at the 18th, one similar enough to a putt he had last year that he knew how the break would work.
"Went right in the center, jumped in there like a rabbit," Frazar said.
South Africa's Goosen, who won the 2001 US Open at Southern Hills and the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock, served notice that he could be a factor again next week in this year's US Open at Congressional Country Club.
Goosen birdied the third and fourth, claimed another at the par-3 11th and answered his only bogey of the day at the par-4 13th with birdies on each of the next four holes to leap up the leaderboard at the $5.6 million event.
"It was great," Goosen said. "I don't know what happened to me, made four birdies in a row, so that was good for my round. You are going to make up some shots on the field."
Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the $5.6 million US PGA St. Jude Classic (USA unless noted, par-70):
199 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 66-65-68
200 - Harrison Frazar 71-65-64
202 - John Merrick 66-69-67
203 - Retief Goosen (RSA) 68-71-64
204 - Fredrik Jacobson (SWE) 71-65-68, Keegan Bradley 67-67-70
205 - Cameron Tringale 71-68-66, Blake Adams 72-67-66, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 69-69-67, Stephen Ames (CAN) 69-68-68, Kris Blanks 66-71-68
206 - Charles Howell 72-67-67, Ryuji Imada (JPN) 70-68-68, Brandt Snedeker 71-66-69, Colt Knost 66-68-72
207 - Greg Chalmers (AUS) 72-69-66, DJ Trahan 74-67-66, Jonathan Byrd 71-68-68, Tim Herron 73-65-69, Troy Matteson 70-67-70, George McNeill 70-67-70
208 - Lee Westwood (GBR) 69-70-69, David Hearn (CAN) 69-70-69, Robert Allenby (AUS) 70-71-67, Camilo Villegas (COL) 69-69-70, Fabian Gomez (ARG) 67-70-71, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 73-69-66
209 - Rod Pampling (AUS) 75-66-68
210 - Cameron Percy (AUS) 70-70-70, Brian Davis (GBR) 71-70-69
212 - John Senden (AUS) 69-73-70
213 - Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 71-70-72, John Daly 69-73-71
214 - Aron Price (AUS) 69-71-74, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 71-66-77, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 70-72-72, Richard S. Johnson (SWE) 74-68-72
215 - Sung-hoon Kang (KOR) 70-71-74, Graham DeLaet (CAN) 73-69-73