Thatcher still four up in Disney

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 7:44 PM ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - Roland Thatcher dropped three shots in his last two holes Saturday, but still emerged with a four-shot lead after the third round of the Children's Miracle Network Classic.

"It was a pretty brutal finish," admitted Thatcher.

Thatcher shot a two-under 70, completed 54 holes at 18-under 198 and maintained his four-shot cushion at Disney's Magnolia Course.

Thatcher will be in search of his first PGA Tour victory, and he could use it. This is the final 2010 PGA Tour event and at 179th on the money list, Thatcher made plans for the second stage of Q School next week.

With a win on Sunday, Thatcher could earn that two-year exemption, although his finish, which featured a shot from the water at 17, stalled his momentum some.

But with so much on the line for Thatcher on Sunday, he's trying to take a simple approach.

"I'll probably try to forget and go to the hotel room just like it's any other round," Thatcher said in a televised interview.

Chris Stroud also had a 70 on Saturday and is alone in second place at minus-14.

Spencer Levin (67), Brett Wetterich (68), Robert Garrigus (70) and Brian Gay (71) are knotted in third place at 13-under 203.

Thatcher walked to the first tee on Saturday with a four-shot lead, but dropped a shot at the first. He got the stroke back with an up-and-down birdie from the bunker at the par-five fourth.

Thatcher's play around the turn gave him a huge lead. He sank a 20-footer for birdie at seven and made it two in a row at the eighth when his nine-footer fell into the cup.

At the par-five 10th, Thatcher converted a four-foot birdie putt. He rolled in a long birdie putt at the 12th and found himself a staggering six shots in front of the field.

He maintained his six-stroke cushion thanks to a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-five 14th. Trouble loomed for Thatcher, starting from the 17th fairway.

Thatcher fanned his approach to the right and his ball landed just in the water. He rolled up his pant leg, donned the rain gear and gave it a whack, but the ball sailed well past the putting surface. Thatcher chipped his fourth to nine feet and he missed that putt for a double-bogey.

At the last, Thatcher missed his drive right and sent his second short into a greenside bunker. He blasted out to 18 feet and missed the par effort to trim his margin to four shots.

"Obviously standing on 17 tee at 21-under, pretty disappointed to end up at 18, but I still got a good chance tomorrow to go out and post a sub-70 round and should have a good chance to win the golf tournament," said Thatcher.

Rory Sabbatini (66), Johnson Wagner (69), Cliff Kresge (68) and Mark Wilson (69) are tied for seventh at 12-under 204.

NOTES: Thatcher has three Nationwide Tour wins...He held the 54-hole lead at the 2004 Reno-Tahoe Open, but a final-round 77 dropped him into a tie for fifth.


Videos

Photos