Feb. 11, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Former Cal men's golfer Charlie Wi maintained his three-shot lead at the conclusion of third-round action Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Wi shot a three-under par 69 at Spyglass Hill Country Club, moving to 15-under par for the tournament heading into Sunday's final round. Wi is looking to become the first former Cal golfer to win on the PGA Tour.
Wi (61-69-69 - 199, -15) will start his fourth and final round three strokes ahead of Ken Duke (64-73-65 - 202, -12), with the top two players on the leaderboard teeing off Sunday in a foursome along with their amateur playing partners Frank Quattrone and Tom Dressen at 9:40 a.m. PT.
Tiger Woods (68-68-67 - 203) moved into third place after shooting a five-under par 67 at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Saturday and will play in the group teeing off just in front of Wi's foursome at 9:29 a.m. PT. Phil Mickleson (70-65-70 - 205, -9) is one of five golfers tied for fourth and will be in the same group along with Woods and their amateur partners Tony Romo and Skip McGee.
The Golf Channel (10-11:30 a.m. PT) and CBS (Noon-3:30 p.m. PT) will continue to provide television coverage of the event on Sunday.
All rounds on Sunday will be played at Pebble Beach for each of the 79 professional golfers and 25 amateurs that made the cut. Wi and Quattrone are tied for fourth (60-67-63 - 190, -24) on the amateur leaderboard, seven shots behind leaders Padrig Harrison and his amateur playing partner J.P. McManus (57-60-66 - 183, -31). Former Cal quarterback and Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers played the event with his professional partner D.J. Trahan (65-67-70 - 202, -12) but the duo did not make the cut for Sunday's final day of action.
In addition to giving a former Cal player a win for the first time on the PGA Tour, a Wi victory would also end a trend the last two weeks in which 54-hole leaders Kyle Stanley and Spencer Levin have lost five and six-shot final day leads at Torrey Pines The Phoenix Open, respectively. Both were going for their first PGA Tour win.
"I haven't really thought about that," Wi said, when asked if it were a blessing or a burden to be in front. "But I enjoy being in the lead. It's a lot more fun than trying to come from behind. I know that tonight is going to be very exciting, and I'm sure I won't sleep as well as if I'm in 50th place. But that's what we play for, and I'm really excited."
"You have to like his chances tomorrow," Cal head coach Steve Desimone said about his former golfer that wrapped up his collegiate career for the Bears in 1995. "Hopefully he gets off to a good start and we could have a heck of an ending tomorrow."
Wi played a steady round of golf on Saturday with 15 pars and three birdies without a bogey. His birdies came on the par-four fourth, par-three 12th and par-four 17th holes.
"Obviously he's played great golf and made very, very few mistakes," Desimone said. "To be able to play Spyglass without a bogey you really have to be on top of your game."
Although he has never won a PGA Tour event, Wi has finished second four times. He has led heading into the final round only once when he had a one-shot lead over David Toms at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2011 before ending with the most recent of his four runner-up finishes.
"At every level, that first win is always the most difficult," Desimone said. "Charlie has been through this a number of times, but I really think he's as ready to win as he's ever going to be. He seems very centered, very confident and I think he's got a real shot at this tomorrow. We may be celebrating all over the country from the East Coast all the way to Honolulu."
Desimone's current Cal team is scheduled to arrive in Hawaii on Sunday to defend its team title at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate hosted by Hawai'i Feb. 15-17 at the Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku, Hawaii.