Thompson takes over at the top

PGA Tour rookie Michael Thompson edged one shot clear after Saturday’s third round of the McGladrey Classic in Georgia.

PGA Tour rookie Michael Thompson edged one shot clear after Saturday’s third round of the McGladrey Classic in Georgia.

Thompson shot a three-under-par 67 at Sea Island’s Seaside Course to finish on 13 under par for the tournament, one shot clear of second-round leader Billy Horschel, who carded an even-par 70 to keep himself in the hunt.

Horschel led for most of the round, but double-bogeyed the 16th after hitting his tee shot into the water, handing the advantage to Thompson, a player who has had only one top-10 finish this season in 23 starts and was delighted to be in the lead.

“I’ve just got to try to hit solid golf shots tomorrow,” said the 26-year-old.

“I was kind of struggling coming down the stretch there but tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Fellow American Webb Simpson is another who kept himself in the picture, shooting a 69 to lie on 11 under, two shots off the lead, as he continues his fight to oust money list leader Luke Donald out of the top spot – and win his thrid PGA Tour event of the season in the process.

Simpson only needs to finish in 15th place or better on Sunday to surpass Donald, though the Englishman has entered next week’s final regulation event of the year, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, in an effort to keep his name at the top of the list – just as it is in Europe on the Race to Dubai.

Simpson had a mixed round, featuring three birdies and two bogeys.

“My caddie and I had a tough time reading the greens,” Simpson told reporters after his round.

“I gave myself plenty of opportunities but the greens, as we get late into the week, are getting tough to putt.

“The goal for today was just to give ourselves a chance to win tomorrow. We hung in there and stayed in the golf tournament. That’s all you can ask.”

Tied with Simpson in third place is 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who fired a course record-equalling 62 to rocket up the leaderboard and into contention.

The South African, who has only one top-10 finish to his name since that major win, is playing his first full injury-free season after consecutive years of constant injury problems – and it’s starting to pay dividends.

He played his final five holes in an incredible six under par.

“That’s always going to help your round,” said Immelman.

“I played real well today, drove the ball well, hit some nice iron shots and made some putts. It really was a fun day.”

Jeff Overton (66), Nick O’Hern (69), Kris Blanks (66) and Louis Oosthuizen (69) were in a fourway tie for fifth.