FORT WORTH, Texas – The last time Kevin Na took the lead into the final round of a tournament, he faltered badly.
For Ian Poulter, though he laughs about it, there is that anonymous survey of PGA Tour players done by Sports Illustrated where he and Rickie Fowler tied as the most overrated player on tour.
Na and Poulter both have a chance to change perceptions at Colonial.
With a birdie on the 17th hole Saturday, after the pair played from almost the same spot, Na regained the outright lead for a one-stroke advantage over Poulter going into the final round at a very damp Hogan’s Alley.
“When it comes to crunch time, you’ve got to trust your stroke and just stay in the moment,” Na said when asked about a chance for his second PGA Tour victory Sunday.
At The Players Championship three years ago, Na led after 54 holes before closing with a 76. He shared the second-round leading there this month before Fowler’s victory that Poulter eluded to this week.
“Rickie went out there and obviously made amends,” Poulter said, referring to the SI survey.
Na shot a 1-under 69 on Saturday, a round that included a couple of bogeys, to reach 11-under 199. Poulter had a 68.
Poulter made a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 7 for a share of the lead at 10 under. He was still part of the lead after a sand save at No. 9, where he blasted to 6 feet from a bunker to save par.
But he dropped out of a lead after starting the back nine with a four-putt double bogey from 16 feet at No. 10. A 3-footer on his third putt doing a U-turn around the cup without going in, though he got one of those strokes back with a 6-foot birdie putt at the 635-yard 11th.
Poulter got even again with a 32-foot birdie putt at No. 15, the same hole Na two-putted from 6 feet after his approach missed the green.
“Pleased with how I played, just a little mishap there on 10,” Poulter said. “It didn’t break, and then a few more putts it took to get in the hole.”
With their golf balls close to each other on the 17th green, Poulter had a 15-foot birdie try that slid by the hole. But Na then made his 14-footer after watching no break in Poulter’s putt.
“I trusted my read, a little outside right and it turned nicely into the hole,” Na said. “It was nice because I was under par going into the last hole.”
With the leaders teeing off at 9:10 a.m., and playing in threesomes instead of the normal weekend twosomes, play was completed about 2 p.m. Saturday. That was about 3 1/2 hours earlier than usual for a weekend round for Colonial leaders.
PGA Tour officials moved up play because of the threat of severe afternoon storms. There were overcast and muggy conditions, with some light rain but no delays. Heavy rain was forecast overnight and into Sunday, with plans again for threesomes and early tee times off both Nos. 1 and 10 for the final round.
Charley Hoffman has third at 9 under after a 66. Chris Kirk, a two-time PGA Tour winner last season, had a 65 for the best round of the day and was tied for fourth at 8 under with Brandt Snedeker (66).
Defending champion Adam Scott carded his second consecutive 66 since an opening 72. He was tied for 10th at 6 under in a group that included Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old Masters champion from Dallas playing the first of consecutive weeks at home in North Texas.
Spieth, the first-round co-leader after a 64, followed his second-round 73 with a 67.
George McNeill got off to a fast start, with four birdies on the first six holes, matching Na at 10 under after the second-round leader had already given back the stroke he earned with his 16-foot birdie putt at No. 3.
Na had a bogey at No. 5, the par 4 along the Trinity River that is the hardest hole on the course. Na hit a tee shot into the hazard and had to take a penalty drop.
McNeill, playing in the group directly ahead of Na, rolled in a 16-foot birdie putt at No. 5 and an 11-footer at No. 6 to get to 10 under. But McNeill hit his drive at No. 12 into the rough and wound up with the first of three bogeys in five holes. He was 7 under after a 69.
Canadian Nick Taylor shot a round of 68 today. Joining him in a tie for tenth place is Adam Hadwin with a round of 69.
At T17 is Graham DeLaet with a round of 67 and David Hearn carded a round of 69, sitting T62.