GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Forest Oaks Country Club course could be his ally, Sandy Lyle said, when he tries to win his first American golf tournament today.
"The golf course is getting very tricky," the British Open champion said after a hard-earned 73 Saturday had given him a three-stroke lead after three rounds of the $500,000 Greater Greensboro Open golf tournament.
"I don't think there'll be any fantastic scores tomorrow because of the conditions," Lyle said. "The rough is up and the greens are getting very firm and a little bumpy.
"I'd be a liar if I said I wouldn't be under any pressure tomorrow. It would be my first in America, and I'd like to pull it off.
"I know tomorrow will be a stomach-turner for me. But it isn't as if I never won before. I've done it before and I can do it again."
Lyle, who had difficulties off the tee, said his one-over-par round "was about the way I played."
He finished 54 holes at 205, 11 under par and three strokes ahead of Tom Purtzer.
Purtzer, who set the course record of 64 in 1980 and saw it tied by Lyle in Friday's round, moved into second place with a 68 that could have been much better.
"It could have been a real good round," said Purtzer, who played the front in 31, then took a double bogey on the 14th and finished at 208, eight under par.
Lyle, who was five shots ahead of the field after 36 holes, has seven contenders within that range going into today's final round.
Former Greensboro winner Craig Stadler and South African David Frost were at 209, four back. Stadler had a 71, and Frost had a no-bogey 68.
Tied at 210 were Dan Pohl, Andy Bean, Leonard Thompson and Jim Simons. Pohl had a 70, while Bean and Thompson matched par 72 and Simons shot a 73.
Lyle, who hit only four of a possible 14 fairways, had to one-putt for a bogey on the first hole and got a lucky break on the 572-yard, par-5 ninth, where his massive drive hit a paved cart path and bounded toward the green. The shot covered "about 350 yards," Lyle said. It left him with a 6-iron to the green and he two-putted for a birdie that enabled him to reach the turn in par 36.
His lead was cut to one stroke when he drove poorly and bogeyed the 10th moments after Stadler birdied the hole.
Stadler, however, couldn't maintain the pressure, bogeyed two of the next four and took another bogey on the last.
After dropping a 15-footer on the 17th, Lyle bogeyed the 18th, hitting his second shot over the green.