SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mark Wilson had some fun on the amphitheater 16th hole in the third round of the Phoenix Open, donning a cheesehead and joining caddie Chris Jones to lead the rowdy fans in Packers chants.
The Wisconsin player, two strokes ahead of three players when play was suspended Sunday because of darkness, will be careful not to get too carried away Monday morning when he hits the 20,000-seat hole in the final round.
“I’m just going to try to make birdies in a smart way, not going to be firing at every pin,” said Wilson, the Sony Open winner last month in Hawaii. “That’s silly. Just hit smart shots and try to roll in the putts.”
Wearing a yellow visor and green shirt in support of his beloved Packers, Wilson did just that late Sunday, breaking a tie with Tommy Gainey with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th. Gainey three-putted the hole for a bogey.
“I birdied some tough holes,” Wilson said. “The 4-iron I hit on 12 was the best swing of the day and I rolled in that putt. Just felt good.
“Been a long ride. I mean, four holes the first day, 28 holes the next day and then four holes and now 31 holes, and we’ll do five more tomorrow and see what happens.”
Wilson and Gainey were facing 20-foot birdie putts on the par-5 13th when they decided it was too dark to finish the hole.
Wilson was 18 under on TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course.
Gainey was tied for second with Vijay Singh and Jason Dufner. Singh shot a 5-under 66, while Dufner had four holes left.
The start Sunday was delayed a half-hour because of frost. About nine hours of playing time has been lost to frost and frozen turf, forcing the Monday finish.
Wilson completed a 68 in the third round Sunday and was 2 under through 12 holes in the final round. He got Super Bowl updates from the on-course announcers.
Gainey was 1 over in the final round after shooting a 68 in the third round to take a one-stroke lead over Wilson.
“I’m not too happy in my position right now, two back, but I’ve just got to come out tomorrow and just get it done,” Gainey said. “Just start making some putts.”
He matched Wilson with a bogey on the par-4 11th after driving into the water on the left, then dropped another stroke on 12 when he three-putted from 90 feet.
“I made a couple bogeys the last few holes, and you know, I didn’t think I really hit that many bad shots to be honest with you,” Gainey said. “The drive on No. 11, I thought was good. I hit it in the middle of the fairway and it just happened to go in the water. That’s just how it goes.”
Singh, winless since 2008, was the last player off the course, putting out on the par-4 18th in the dark more than 10 minutes after Wilson and Gainey stopped playing.
“I’ve got no chance,” Singh said. “They’re going to come back tomorrow and I think the leaders have two par 5s to go and 17, and they’re good enough players.”
Singh has been slowed by right knee problems.
“Considering all, this is the first time that I’ve actually felt good, and coming back to the way I know how to play golf,” he said. “Whatever happens, I’m very satisfied with my result this week.”
J.B. Holmes (67) and Nick Watney (68) finished at 15 under. Martin Laird and Chris Couch also were 15 under. Laird had two holes left, and Couch had five.
Fan favorites Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, paired together in the second-to-last group, dropped out of contention.
Fowler holed out from 123 yards on the final hole of the third round for a 69, but was six strokes back at 12 under with five holes left.
Mickelson, second a week ago in San Diego, had a 71 in the third round and was 11 under overall. He needs at least a solo third-place finish to pass Tiger Woods for No. 3 in the world. Lefty hasn’t been ranked ahead of Woods since the week before the 1997 Masters.
Fowler wore a hot pink hat, shirt and shoes in the third round, prompting a female fan near the 16th green to shout “Rickie, I want your shoes!” In the fourth round, he switched to an all-orange “Oklahoma State” ensemble.