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Mickelson, Watney Tied for Lead in N.C.

Suzann Pettersen reacts to a missed birdie putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Kingsmill Championship LPGA golf tournament in Williamsburg, Va., Saturday, May 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Suzann Pettersen reacts to a missed birdie putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Kingsmill Championship LPGA golf tournament in Williamsburg, Va., Saturday, May 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Charlotte, n.c. — Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney wound up tied for the lead yesterday in the Wells Fargo Championship, minus the separation from the rest of the field.

Mickelson hit a shot out-of-bounds on the 15th hole and hit another shot that struck a spectator in the head, costing him three shots over the last four holes at Quail Hollow in his round of 1-over 73. Watney hit a semi-shank with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th, took double bogey and had to settle for a 71.

It felt like a small consolation that they were tied at 8-under 208, one shot ahead of George McNeill, who had his share of trouble down the stretch for a 72.

Instead of pulling away from the pack, their mistakes in a wild final hour allowed a dozen players to get within three shots of the lead.

One of them was Rory McIlroy, who shot 73 and missed seven putts from the 5-foot range or closer, which was no way to celebrate his 24th birthday. McIlroy ranked 82nd out of the 83 players who made the 36-hole cut in the key putting statistic, yet he still goes into the final round with a good chance for his first win of the year.

Kingsmill Championship

Williamsburg, Va. — Two-time champion Cristie Kerr shot a 5-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead over second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen after the third round of the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship.

Kerr, the only two-time winner at the River Course, made six birdies to reach 10-under 203. She took command on a day when seven players shared the lead at one point or another.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old Thai player who led after each of the first two rounds, had three bogeys and a birdie on her first four holes and fought a balky putter for a 73 that left her five shots back.

Insperity Championship

The Woodlands, Texas — Gene Sauers chipped in for birdie on the par-4 17th a day after making a double bogey on the hole, and finished with a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s Insperity Championship.

Hockey

U.S. Rallies to Beat Austria

Helsinki — The United States rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to beat Austria 5-3 in its opening game at the ice hockey world championship yesterday.

Russia began the defense of its title with a 6-0 win over Latvia.

David Moss began the Americans’ comeback off a rebound in the first period, and defenseman Erik Johnson opened and closed the second period with power-play goals. In between, Tim Stapleton and Aaron Palushaj also scored.

Auto Racing

Hunter-Reay
Wins Pole in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo — American Ryan Hunter-Reay set a track record yesterday to win the pole position for IndyCar’s Sao Paulo 300.

The defending IndyCar Series champion was timed in 1 minute, 20.430 seconds for a lap at the Anhembi street track. He was 0.307 seconds ahead of Venezuela’s EJ Viso and 0.461 in front of Scotland’s Dario Franchitti.

Home-crowd favorite Tony Kanaan was fourth despite an injured right hand that caused him problems throughout the day. He will be participating in his 200th consecutive race, extending the second-longest run in the series. His KV Racing owner, Jimmy Vasser, holds the record with 211.

Points leader Helio Castroneves and Will Power, winner of all three previous races in Sao Paulo, didn’t make it past the first round of qualifying after a mechanical problem with the car of James Jakes kept them from posting a fast lap. Castroneves, another local favorite, will start 18th and Power 22nd.

Hunter-Reay has started on the front row in three of the first four races this season.

Regan Smith Wins Wreck-Fest

Talladega, Ala. — Regan Smith won the crash-filled Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway when NASCAR said he was leading at the final caution flag last night.

The race was delayed three hours by rain and slowed by several cautions, and NASCAR cut the distance by 10 laps as darkness closed in on the track. Then Joey Coulter brought out a caution and NASCAR decided to make one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.

At least 10 cars were jockeying for position in packs of two on the final lap when Brian Vickers was spun hard into the outside wall. Smith, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne raced three-wide to the finish line and Kahne crossed it first.

But NASCAR decided Smith was leading when the caution came out and was the winner.

Boxing

Klitschko Keeps Belts

Mannheim, Germany — Wladimir Klitschko stopped Francesco Pianeta in the sixth round last night to retain the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.

The Ukrainian was never troubled by Pianeta, finishing off the previously unbeaten Italian southpaw with a right-left combination. Pianeta stayed down before attempting to continue, but there was no point in delaying the inevitable and referee Ernie Sharif ended the bout 2:52 into the round.

Klitschko rocked Pianeta inside the first 30 seconds, knocked him to the canvas with a straight right down the middle in the fourth, and again with a left blow in the fifth.

Pianeta, who was spirited but clearly out of his depth, dropped to 28-1-1, while the 37-year-old Klitschko improved to 60-3 after his 52nd knockout.