Fort Worth: Britain’s Brian Davis, wielding a red-hot putter, birdied two of the last five holes to join American Bryce Molder in a tie for the lead in the Colonial Invitational third round on Saturday.
Six weeks after losing a playoff for the Heritage Classic, Davis stayed in the hunt for his first PGA Tour title by firing a flawless five-under-par 65 in ideal scoring conditions at Colonial Country Club.
The 35-year-old Englishman, two strokes off the pace overnight, knocked in a three-foot birdie putt at the 14th and a 10-footer at the 17th on the way to a 16-under total of 194.
That put him level with second-round leader Molder, who parred the last eight holes for a 67 after briefly holding a two-shot lead on the back nine.
Former US Masters champion Zach Johnson carded a 64 to lie third at 15 under, one ahead of fellow Americans Jason Bohn (68), Jeff Overton (66) and Ben Crane (64).
Davis was delighted with his return to form following three missed cuts since his playoff loss to Jim Furyk at Hilton Head, where he called a two-stroke penalty on himself at the first extra hole.
“I had to deal with the media and stuff after what happened at Hilton Head and it sort of distracted me a bit,” Davis said in a greenside interview after totalling only 22 putts.
“I wasn’t playing that bad but I just wasn’t putting it all together. Obviously this week has been a turnaround and I am in contention so I am really happy.”
For much of a calm but hot afternoon at Colonial, it seemed Molder would hold on to the outright lead in pursuit of his first PGA Tour victory.
Although he briefly surrendered the lead to South Korean KJ Choi with a double-bogey at the par-four fifth, he drew level with Choi and Bohn at the top with a birdie at the seventh.
Molder edged one ahead by rolling in a 34-footer at the par-three eighth and he stayed a stroke in front when he rammed in an 18-footer at the ninth to match Bohn’s birdie on the same hole.
The two Americans each birdied the 10th after hitting approach shots within four feet of the flag, Molder completing his with a ninth successive one-putt.
However his playing partner Bohn slipped back with a bogey at the 12th, where he needed two shots to escape a fairway bunker, to trail Molder by two.
Although Bohn recovered with a birdie at the 14th, he three-putted for bogey at the last to drop back into a three-way tie for fourth at 14 under.
Molder was unable to pick up any further shots over the closing stretch and had to settle for a share of the lead after he narrowly missed a birdie attempt from 10 feet on the 18th green.
Choi, eight under for his round with one hole to play, ran up a quadruple-bogey eight at the last for a 66 after driving into the left rough and hitting his third shot into water.