PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Paired in the final group, Luke Guthrie and Michael Thompson went head-to-head against each other and PGA National’s wind-whipped Champion Course in Saturday’s third round of the Honda Classic.
They get to do it all over again on Sunday.
Thompson shot an even-par 70 and Guthrie a 1-over 71 to share the third-round lead at 8-under 202. That put them two shots ahead of veterans Lee Westwood and Geoff Ogilvy.
Rickie Fowler and Charles Howell III were another shot back in fifth at 205. Y.E. Yang, who had the day’s best round at 67, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose were among five players at 206.
Tiger Woods was eight shots back and tied for 32nd at even-par 210 after posting his third straight 70. He birdied two of the first three holes and added a third birdie at No. 8 to go out in 3 under 32. Seven pars, a bogey and a double-bogey gave him a 38 on the back nine.
Guthrie, 23, went into Saturday’s round with the first lead of his PGA Tour rookie season at 9-under-par 131 after shooting a 7-under 63 Friday, the best round of the tournament.
Thompson, 27, who is in his third year on the Tour and whose best finish was a tie for second at last year’s U.S. Open, was a shot behind.
Like a couple of prizefighters, the two men went back and forth throughout the day on a course with punishing rough and in winds of 15-20 mph that put a premium on driving the ball straight and club selection.
“To me, it’s almost like the conditions of the grass are like the U.S. Open, but we have the wind of a British Open,” Thompson said.
Both players led the tournament, but neither went ahead of the other by more than a shot.
“I enjoyed it,” Thompson said. “I almost looked at it kind of like match play. We were just going back and forth and both kind of hitting it all over the place and struggling to make pars.
“We both hit a lot of really good shots and we both hit a lot of bad shots. I think on a day like today, we fed off each other.”
Thompson credited his short game for saving his round. He had eight one-putt greens and sank a bunker shot for one of his four birdies.
Guthrie had two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, a bogey on No. 10 and then eight straight pars. He missed some good birdie chances, but he also avoided costly mistakes. The 75-man field made 50 double bogeys Saturday.
“I’m proud of the way I played,” Guthrie said. “I played smart, solid golf, stayed away from the trouble.
“You’ve just got to put your head down when it’s tough like that and know that par is going to be a great score around here. It’s a pretty good score when there’s no wind and it’s perfect out.”
Westwood was in position to put some pressure on the leaders after birdieing Nos. 14 and 17 to get to 6 under, but he sliced his second shot to the 18th green into the water. After a drop, he chipped to 4 feet and eased in the par-saving putt.
Ogilvy also had to scramble to stay at 6 under. He bogeyed three of his first four holes, but he did birdie No. 3 to keep things from getting out of hand. Birdies at 8 and 9 got him back to where he started. A bogey at 16 was offset when Ogilvy got up and down for birdie at 18.
Neither Guthrie nor Thompson was concerned about the big names lurking behind them. Thompson said he and Guthrie are under the radar even though they are in front of “marquis players.”
“I would like to see them all up there,” said Guthrie, who admitted he’s a leaderboard watcher, “and hopefully right behind me.”