Thatcher maintains lead

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Roland Thatcher will take a four-shot lead into the final round of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Roland Thatcher maintained his four-shot lead in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Saturday despite a shaky finish to his third round in Florida.

The American closed with a double bogey and then a bogey at Disney World Resort but still carded a two-under-par round of 70.

Thatcher therefore stands on an 18-under total in the PGA Tour’s season-ending tournament and remains on the verge of earning his 2011 card.

Currently ranked 179th on the money list, Thatcher entered the tournament expecting it to serve as a warm-up event for qualifying school.

He will make the place in the top 125 he needs by either winning the tournament or finishing on his own in second place.

Thatcher had opened up a six-shot lead over Chris Stroud when he stood on the 17th tee.

However, he then put his second shot into a water hazard, before chipping well over the green and missing a long bogey putt.

Thatcher’s tee shot at 18 then went right and he needed relief from a cart path. His approach then found a bunker, meaning a closing bogey.

He owes his four-shot lead to Stroud also making bogey at 18 and admitted he needed to put the poor finish behind him ahead of the final round.

“Finishing up double and bogey takes some of the wind out of the sails,” Thatcher said. “I have to find a way to have some good momentum starting tomorrow.

“I will probably just go to the hotel and try to forget about it.”

Stroud stands second after also shooting a 70, with Spencer Levin (67), Brett Wetterich (68), Brian Gay (71) and Robert Garrigus (70) sharing third place.

South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini (66) and Cliff Kresge (68), Johnson Wagner (69) and Mark Wilson (69) were all one shot further back on 12 under.

Meanwhile, Michael Connell, who is 124th on the projected final money list, stands one shot further back ahead of what is sure to be a tense final day.

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