MEMPHIS, Tennessee, AP
John Daly shot an 8-under-par 63 to move within a stroke of Bob Estes, who had a 69 Saturday to keep the lead after three rounds of the St. Jude Classic. Daly, winless since the 1995 British Open, started the round seven strokes off the pace set by Estes through 36 holes. But Daly carded eight birdies in his best round since a 63 in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. Estes, who tied the course record with a 61 on Thursday, teed off with a four-stoke lead. That lead dwindled as he managed just two birdies against 16 pars for a 17-under total of 196. Scott McCarron had a share of the lead through 10 holes and finished with a 66 to tie Daly for second. Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange (69) was at 201, and Jesper Parnevik (71), Paul Goydos (69) and Bernhard Langer (68) at 202. But it was Daly, who once owned a home off the 16th fairway here and still considers Memphis home for half the year, who had fans cheering. In addition to his winless drought, Daly has struggled with a drinking problem. Even though he continues to lead the PGA Tour in driving, Daly has had only one top- 10 finish all year — a tie for ninth at the Phoenix Open in January.
He also has missed five cuts in 15 tournaments. This event didn’t seem to be the place where he would pull his game together.
Daly has never finished better than a tie for 16th in 1993, missing the cut four times and being disqualified once. Daly credited his putter with helping him card his third straight round in the 60s for the first time this year.
He put himself in contention with four birdies on his first five holes. Only a problem early with a couple of short putts kept him from scoring even better. He got going again on the back nine with birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 16. He two-putted for par on No. 15, and just missed an eagle on the par-5 16th. Daly grabbed a share of the lead with his final birdie, an 8-foot (2.4-meter) shot before a roaring crowd. Estes reclaimed the lead with a birdie on the par-4 17th.