Harris English may have eviscerated the competition during the first two days at the 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic, but his playing partner Shawn Stefani stole the show in Saturday's third round.
The ascending American heads into the final round as the clubhouse leader after firing off a four-under score of 66. That's all well and good, but what was notable was how Stefani found himself in the lead prior to Sunday's final round.
As noted by Jason Sobel of Golf Channel, Stefani carded eight birdies in his round and one quadruple bogey:
Shawn Stefani takes the FedEx St. Jude Classic lead by shooting 66 with a quad. Oh, and eight birdies.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 8, 2013
Yes, a quadruple bogey.
Despite that one frustrating hole, Stefani has a two-stroke lead over English, who fired off a steady, one-under score of 69 on Saturday. The 23-year-old American was the leader for much of the day, buoyed by his six-under Friday round.
Three others sit at eight-under overall and are tied for third place. Here is a look at the remainder of the leaderboard through Round 3, courtesy of the PGA Tour's official website:
|Pos||Golfer||RD 1||RD 2||RD 3||OVR|
Stefani and English are undoubtedly the biggest stories of Day 3, but they will be facing fierce competition from some of this field's most notable names. Phil Mickelson had by far his best round of the tournament, carding a five-under score of 65.
"Lefty's" round started the way most rounds start for the 42-year-old—all over the place. He bogeyed to start and then went birdie-eagle on the next two holes en route to a 32 on the front nine. For the day, Mickelson had only eight pars, as he went back and forth between brilliant and frustrating on a routine basis.
He's now seven-under for the tournament and five strokes off Stefani's lead. And though that might seem like insurmountable odds, Mickelson was brilliant on No. 18 and should be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday.
Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel said it looked like Mickelson was rounding himself into form for next week's Open:
Phil Mickelson priming for US Open. Great scouting last wk, on form in Memphis, shot 68 at Merion in 89 US Am medalplay #goodmemories— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) June 8, 2013
Joining Mickelson at five-under for the day was Padraig Harrington. The 41-year-old Harrington has struggled throughout the 2013 season but finally seemed to be putting his game together on Saturday. He carded a whopping eight birdies against three bogeys and is now in a tie for eighth place.
Still, Stefani's late charge to the front stole the show. The 31-year-old's greatest triumphs as a golfer prior to the St. Jude Classic were wins on the Web.com Tour, a precursor to the PGA Tour. He is a graduate of Lamar University, and his standing atop the leaderboard is one of the most shocking things of this weekend.
Luckily, Stefani can thank one thing for pushing him into the lead heading into Sunday—resiliency. Though Stefani had played well throughout the day, carding three birdies on the front nine and putting himself in the lead, things threatened to go south in a hurry on the back nine.
Standing two ahead of the field coming into the No. 11 tee box, Stefani quite nearly choked the entire tournament away. He fired errant shot after errant shot, a cacophony of misfortunes that led to a quadruple bogey on the par-three hole.
Reuters' Mark Lamport-Stokes noted what a bind Stefani placed himself in:
Two ahead at 12 under playing the par-3 11th, Shawn Stefani tumbles 2 shots off the lead after making an ugly quadruple-bogey there.— Mark Lamport-Stokes (@MarkLamport) June 8, 2013
And yet Stefani brought himself back. Starting with hole No. 14, the PGA Tour novice looked like a seasoned pro. He carded four birdies in the last five holes, including three consecutive to close out his round. Stefani's birdie on No. 17 included a beautiful approach that set him up with a strong putt for the red score.
Stefani will be looking to clinch his first PGA Tour victory when the field hits the links for Sunday's Round 4, with English staring him down.
While it wasn't quite the ascendant performance of his first couple of rounds, English continued to show strong shot-making ability en route to his one-under score. From the opening hole he made it clear that there would be no atrophy in his play. After striking his tee shot into a fairway bunker, English unloaded a fantastic approach to within 12 feet and knocked down the birdie.
When English scored another birdie on the par-five No. 3, it looked like he might be preparing for another great day. But things slowed down a bit from there, as the burgeoning youngster, who already has three top-10 finishes this year, carded two bogeys against one birdie to finish off a mostly uneventful round.
With Stefani and English far ahead of the field and preparing to be in the same group on Sunday, it looks like we'll be seeing a bit of history this week on the Tour.
Just don't forget about Lefty.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: