PHILADELPHIA, July 2, 2011 (AFP) - American Nick Watney fired a course record eight-under 62 on Saturday for a share of the third round lead at the PGA Tour's AT&T National tournament.
Watney shot 27 on the back nine en route to his course best, breaking the record held for 20 minutes by Steve Marino, who finished with a seven-under 63.
"I guess anything is possible," Watney said. "But I don't think you ever expect to shoot that low. You don't go on to the golf course very often anticipating a 62."
Records at the par-70 Aronimink Golf Club course didn't last very long as seven players either broke or tied the previous course record of 64 set by England's Justin Rose last year.
South Korea's KJ Choi also tied Rose's record in Friday's second round.
Watney, the World Golf Championship winner, shares the lead heading into Sunday's final round with fellow American Rickie Fowler, who made six birdies in his opening 10 holes for a six-under 64.
"It was really nice to finally get something going. I felt like I played well all week and just was one-under par to start the day," said Watney. "So very pleased with the back nine and looking forward to tomorrow."
Fowler played the last eight holes at even-par to reach a nine-under-par 201 total.
In addition to Watney and Marino, Chris Kirk also bettered the course record with a 63 in the third round.
Second round leader Choi struggled early with two birdies and four bogeys on the front nine. He fought back to finish one-under for his round with birdies on 14, 16 and 18.
Choi is alone in third place at minus-eight. Marino, first-round leader Adam Scott of Australia (66) and Webb Simpson (64) share fourth place at seven-under-par 203.
"I'm quite happy with a 66," Scott said. "But yeah, it doesn't really stack up against a 62, does it?"
Of the 76 players who teed off Saturday 40 had rounds in the 60s.
Fowler has finished twice in the past year in second place. He will try to break through with a win Sunday.
"I think the biggest thing is just go out and be patient, not get ahead of myself and not get too excited or anxious, just sit back, relax, go through things the same way tonight and just go have some fun tomorrow," Fowler said.
Fijian-Indian Vijay Singh withdrew with a back injury.
Scores on Saturday after the third round of the $6.2 million US PGA National (USA unless noted, par 70):
201 - Nick Watney 70-69-62, Rickie Fowler 68-69-64
202 - K.J. Choi (KOR) 69-64-69
203 - Steve Marino 70-70-63, Webb Simpson 69-70-64, Adam Scott (AUS) 66-71-66
204 - Chris Kirk 70-71-63, Bill Haas 68-70-66, Chris Stroud 70-68-66, Bryce Molder 69-67-68, Jeff Overton 71-65-68, Charlie Wi (KOR) 69-66-69
205 - Charles Howell 68-68-69
206 - Kevin Stadler 73-69-64, Spencer Levin 70-68-68, John Merrick 68-70-68, Troy Matteson 68-70-68, Bo Van Pelt 69-66-71, Justin Leonard 68-67-71
207 - Justin Rose (GBR) 70-72-65, Robert Allenby (AUS) 71-68-68, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 67-71-69
208 - Andres Romero (ARG) 71-70-67
209 - Trevor Immelman (RSA) 69-70-70
211 - Stephen Ames (CAN) 72-71-68, Brian Davis (GBR) 71-72-68, Ryuji Imada (JPN) 72-70-69, Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 71-71-69
212 - David Hearn (CAN) 69-70-73
213 - Carl Pettersson (SWE) 73-70-70, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 70-71-72
214 - Mike Weir (CAN) 71-70-73
215 - Rod Pampling (AUS) 74-69-72