PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Luke Donald's nearest rivals spent Saturday alternating birdies and bogeys with regularity, an approach that let each taste a lead most couldn't wind up sustaining.
Meanwhile, Donald kept escaping trouble and slowly crept into the top spot at the Honda Classic.
Donald's five-birdie, one-bogey round of 68 left him 9-under par entering today's final round and sharing the top spot with Billy Mayfair - who eagled the 17th hole to highlight his even-par 72 and reclaim a portion of the lead.
"I played solidly and didn't really have too many mistakes," said Donald, whose only tour win was at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
Nationwide Tour graduate Jeff Gove (69) was one shot back, and Daniel Chopra and Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy were 7 under after 71s.
"Two shots is nothing on this course," Ogilvy said. "You can make up two shots in one hole."
You can also lose two shots in one hole; Ogilvy made his third double-bogey of the week during his round. And David Toms made a slower, more pronounced slide - the first- and second-round leader bogeyed four of his final six holes, shot 76 and fell to 6 under with Mathias Gronberg (72).
Mathew Goggin shot 65 and was at 5 under, along with Pat Perez (who had an eagle and six birdies, the last a 50-foot chip on No. 18) and Frank Lickliter, whose 70 included seven birdies and five bogeys.
Defending champion Padraig Harrington got to 7 under early in his round, but consecutive double-bogeys derailed him.
He finished at 74 and in a three-way tie for 11th, falling to 4 under but only five shots behind Mayfair and Donald, who has hit two of every three greens in regulation this week.
Gove - the No. 2 money-winner on the Nationwide Tour - had six birdies and three bogeys. If he wins, he'll collect $990,000; his biggest check as a pro is $100,000 from finishing 10th at the 2002 Greater Hartford Open.
Long before the leaders and most spectators arrived, Jon Mills - who's never finished better than 42nd in a PGA Tour event, but shot 60 last year in a Nationwide event in Omaha - put on quite an early show.
Mills tied a tournament record by shooting 29 on the front, making birdie on seven of his first eight holes. He finished with 68, getting to 1 under.
"It was an awesome start," Mills said.
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