A few surprise contenders introduced themselves to the leaderboard at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing on Saturday, but perhaps none more emphatically so than 31-year-old Nicholas Thompson.
Entering the day tied for 15th with six others, Thompson stormed to five birdies on the front nine. That was good enough to give him a lead at 7 under, which he held for eight holes before closing with bogeys on 16 and 18 to finish at 5 under.
"All in all, I'm really happy with where I am," Thompson said. "I played nicely from tee to green. I hit a lot of nice golf shots."
Chief among those was a 45-foot putt for birdie on No. 8, which drew a hearty cheer from the gallery. What stuck with the Coral Springs, Fla., resident after the round, however, were the putts he missed.
"My speed was a little bit off," Thompson said. "Didn't hit it hard enough on pretty much every hole."
Thompson came up short on holes 12, 13, 15, and 17 -- opportunities that, if converted, would have put him in an even better position than his current three-shot deficit.
Thompson, who has never won a PGA Tour event, is confident going into Sunday. This is his fifth Heritage, and he hopes it will soon be his most memorable. He also hopes to replicate some of the success of his sister, Lexi Thompson, who won the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship, her first major tournament win.
"I'm excited. Looking forward to it," Thompson said of the final round. "My golf game is good. I'm hitting a lot of quality golf shots. And it's going to be an exciting day (Sunday), as long as we don't have to play 18 eighteen times."
PREVIOUS CHAMPS, NOTABLE NAMES MISS THE CUT
Seven past Heritage champions were cut Saturday following the completion of the suspended second round. Five-time winner Davis Love III finished 8-over par, while two-time winner Tom Watson closed at 6 over. Other former winners to miss out on the weekend were Nick Faldo (+11), Glen Day (+7), Justin Leonard (+6), Carl Pettersson (+6), and Aaron Baddeley (+5). Seven previous winners remain in the field, including Jim Furyk (T-3), Graeme McDowell (T-22), Stewart Cink (T-43), Brian Gay (T-67), Brandt Snedeker (T-74), and Boo Weekley (T-74).
ANDERSON MAKES FIRST CUT, STANLEY SLIPS
Beaufort's Mark Anderson completed his second round Friday but had to wait Saturday morning to learn his weekend fate.
Anderson, who was 4 over after two rounds, watched the cut move up and down before settling on 4.
So Anderson made his first cut of the season, teed off at 2 p.m. on Saturday and shot a third-round 74. He is 7 over, ahead of only Bishopville's Tommy Gainey, who is 8 over.
Bluffton's Kyle Stanley followed his opening-round 77 with a 2-over 73 to finish at 150 and miss the cut by four shots. The former Clemson standout made only two birdies, both during the first round. His second round included 16 pars and two bogeys.
FITZPATRICK IMPRESSES AGAIN
Matthew Fitzpatrick, the only amateur remaining in the field, finished his third round at 2 under to give him the same score for the tournament. The Englishman and 2013 U.S. Amateur champion is tied for 16th, six shots back of the lead.