Pettersson inches in front at Harbour Town

4/14/2012 3:19:28 PM

The nine-foot birdie putt at the last pushed the Swede to 12-under 201 through 54 holes at Harbour Town Golf Links. Pettersson is one clear of second-round leader Colt Knost, who availed himself nicely with a two-under 69 on Saturday.

Former Masters champion Zach Johnson shot a five-under 66 and is alone in third at eight-under 205. Two-time Heritage winner Boo Weekley posted a one- under 70 and is fourth at minus-seven.

Defending champion Brandt Snedeker carded a two-under 69 and is tied for fifth place with Kevin Na (69) and Robert Garrigus (70). The trio is knotted at six- under par.

Pettersson began the third round two strokes behind Knost, but vaulted to the top of the leaderboard thanks to a great run on the front nine.

After Knost bogeyed one, then holed out from off the green for eagle at two, he was one ahead. Pettersson birdied the second and knocked his approach inside two feet at the third. Knost bogeyed the hole and Pettersson kicked in his short one to tie the two for the lead at nine-under par.

Pettersson moved in front with a nine-foot birdie putt at the fourth. Both players birdied the par-five fifth, but Pettersson polished off his fifth consecutive birdie with a 14-footer at No. 6.

Knost missed a nine-footer for birdie at the same hole and Pettersson was two in front. Pettersson had a 20-foot look at a sixth straight birdie, but missed.

At the ninth, Knost poured in a 14-foot birdie putt to cut the deficit to one. One hole later, Knost missed the green short with his approach, then missed a 10-footer to save par. He was back down two, but Pettersson sank a 12-foot birdie putt of his own at 10 to go three clear.

He dropped a shot at 11 when his drive and approach went left. Pettersson had almost 40 feet for par and failed to convert.

Pettersson's lead was two, but Knost chopped it in half with a 16-foot birdie putt at 13.

The two found themselves tied after Pettersson made a mess of the par-five 15th.

He hooked his second short left, then tried to be too cute with his pitch and dumped it in a bunker in front of the flag. His bunker shot didn't reach the green and it added up to a bogey.

"I hit such a big drive down there, I felt like I had to step on the throttle and try to knock it on," Pettersson explained in his televised interview. "I was going to the front right bunker and over-hooked it. I wasn't in a very good spot. I got greedy on the third shot and it resulted in a bogey.

"It got me re-focused."

Neither player gave themselves great chances at birdie on 16 or 17.

At the last, Knost's second stopped 30 feet short of the flagstick. Pettersson's approach rolled just past the hole and came to rest eight feet past the cup.

Knost nearly made his long birdie putt, but settled for a tap-in par.

Pettersson buried his birdie putt to grab the third-round lead to himself.

"I thought I played a great round of golf today," Pettersson said on TV. "I was happy."

Pettersson has four PGA Tour victories and has been in this position five times in his tour career. He turned three of those five previous 54-hole leads into wins.

Knost, on the other hand, has never won on tour, nor really contended. He tied for third at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, but after an amazing amateur career that saw him win the 2007 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links, this is a new experience.

"I held it together pretty good out there," Knost said in his television interview. "It was tough today. We're going to put it to the test again tomorrow."

Tommy Gainey and Brian Davis both shot rounds of three-under 68 on Saturday and share eighth at five-under 208.

NOTES: It looks like Rory McIlroy will become the world No. 1 on Monday. Luke Donald needed a top-eight finish this week to keep the top spot, but an even- par 71 on Saturday left him in a tie for 52nd at plus-two...Pettersson's last victory came at the 2010 Canadian Open and his last 54-hole lead was in 2008...Matt Kuchar, who held the lead on the back nine last week at the Masters, shot a two-under 69 and is tied for 14th at three-under.