By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Scottie Scheffler almost made it through another round at Colonial without a bogey, this time with wind gusting through the trees at Hogan’s Alley. The world’s top-ranked player has the lead alone after the third round.
Scheffler, whose only bogey at Colonial so far this week came at No. 17 on Saturday, shot a 2-under 68 with wind gusts of around 30 mph and temperatures in the upper-90s. His 11-under total was two strokes ahead of Brendon Todd, whose third-round 65 was bogey-free, and Scott Stallings (70).
“I mean, I was playing good golf. It was really tough out there,” Scheffler said. “The winds were up really high. The greens were actually pretty firm, and so it was challenging.”
Consecutive birdies to start the back nine gave Scheffler a two-stroke lead. He had a 20-foot chip-in from the left edge of the green at No. 10, then hit a 357-yard drive and 250-yard approach at the 621-yard 11th before pitching to 6 inches.
Scheffler’s bogey was a three-putt from 37 feet at No. 17, where his 5-foot par chance slid just left of the cup. He got that stroke back with a 31-foot birdie on his final putt of the day.
“I was glad it was going toward the cup. I hit it a little bit too firm. I struggled a little bit with the speed of the greens today. It’s tough when the wind gets blowing that hard,” he said. “Like 18, I’m putting downhill but straight into the wind, and depending on what kind of gust I get, it’s going to move that ball around on the green a lot.”
The only bogey-free round other than Todd was a 68 by Harold Varner III, who was alone in fourth place at 8 under.
“I didn’t know it was bogey-free,” Varner said afterward. “But when the wind is up like that, you just want to hang in there, and I thought I did a really good job of that for sure.”
After Scheffler missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship, his first cut since his season debut in October, the Masters champion goes into Sunday’s final round with a chance for his fifth career PGA Tour victory — all in a span of 10 starts since mid-February.
More gusty wind and high temperatures are in the forecast for Sunday
The last PGA Tour player with five wins in a season before the start of June was Tom Watson in 1980.
Todd got to 9 under with a 31-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth hole that put him 5 under for his round before 10 consecutive pars. That was his second birdie of at least 30 feet — the other came at No. 2 after he opened with an 8-foot eagle putt at the 551-yard first hole.
“Really it’s just kind of about, not necessarily hanging on, but just making sure you continue to play smart golf and don’t go out there and try and birdie every hole and maybe shoot yourself in the foot by playing too aggressive,” Todd said. “I did a good job of managing the wind and the golf course and scrambled pretty well there on the back nine.”
Beau Hossler and Stallings began the third round tied with Scheffler for the lead. Scheffler had also been part of the lead after 18 holes, when a Colonial-record eight players were tied atop the leaderboard.
Hossler and Stallings had pars only through the first six holes, but dropped out of the lead when both missed makeable par putts at No. 7. Hossler’s 8-footer was possibly pushed by the wind and skimmed the right edge, while Stallings lipped the hole from 3 1/2 feet.
Stallings followed with another bogey at the par-3 eight hole, where he missed a 5-foot par chance, and another at No. 10. But three birdies over his last seven holes got him even for the round after a finishing four-footer.
“I managed pretty well all day. Just kept the ball in front of me,” Stallings said. “Hit a really nice pitch on 7, kind of one of those awkward putts, like a four-footer up the hill with the wind blowing straight across. Kind of the exact same thing on 8 … Misjudged my pitch on 10 and next thing you know you’re 3 over par.”
Hossler ended with consecutive bogeys for a 73 that dropped him to 6 under and in a three-way tie for ninth that included Mito Pereira (68), whose 50-foot putt at No. 18 was his third birdie in the last five holes.
Pereira last week blew the PGA Championship lead and missed getting into a playoff with Justin Thomas and Dallas-area resident Will Zalatoris because of a double bogey on the 72nd hole.
Thomas, the world’s fifth-ranked player and PGA winner, and Zalatoris both shot 3 over the first two rounds to miss the Colonial cut.
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