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De Jonge leads storm-hit AT&T as Woods give chase

updated 10:49 AM EDT, Sun July 1, 2012
Zimbabwe's Brendon De Jonge (right) during the third round of the AT&T National which was disrupted by storms on Friday night
Zimbabwe's Brendon De Jonge (right) during the third round of the AT&T National which was disrupted by storms on Friday night
  • Zimbawean Brendon De Jonge leads by one from Tiger Woods and Bo Van Pelt after storms batter Congressional course
  • Play starts late as ground staff clear up after strong winds fell trees and branches on Friday night
  • De Jonge looking for maiden PGA Tour victory; Woods seeking to repeat success of 2009

(CNN) -- Brendon de Jonge is on course for a maiden PGA Tour victory after seizing a one-stroke lead in the third round of the storm-hit AT&T National at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland.

The Zimbabwean posted his second successive round of 69 on Saturday to move to seven-under par, one clear of Tiger Woods and opening-round leader Bo Van Pelt who both shot rounds of 67.

De Jonge and the rest of the field played out their third rounds in an eerily quiet atmosphere after PGA Tour officials ordered spectators to stay away from the course following a severe storm on Friday night.

"At first it was definitely very strange. Then we kind of got used to it," De Jonge said.

"Just the no buzz. It was hard to get the adrenaline going, kind of felt like you were playing a Tuesday practice round or a qualifier," he added.

Play was delayed for six hours as ground staff cleared up after Friday night's winds -- estimated by the PGA Tour to to be in excess of 70 mph (112 kph) -- downed a tree on the 14th fairway and left branches and debris scattered all over the course.

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De Jonge continued his steady form once play got underway, with two birdies on the front nine and another at the 12th before a bogey at the par-four 14th checked his progress.

It was hard to get the adrenaline going, kind of felt like you were playing a Tuesday practice round or a qualifier
Brendon De Jonge

Woods and Van Pelt moved into contention with rounds of 67 while South Korea's Noh Seung-yul is also one stroke behind after posting a 69 on Saturday.

"It was amazing we even got it in," Woods said. "So that was good. Today I just tried to make a run and fight back to get myself in the tournament."

The 14-time major winner, who last won the event back in 2009, likened the largely spectator-less course to playing in a practice round.

"I've played in front of people like this, but not generally for an 18-hole competitive round."

America's Hunter Mahan (73) and Billy Hurley III -- whose round of 66 was the best of the day -- are two shots off the lead on five-under par.

Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas is three shots adrift of De Jonge after completing a round of 68.

"Winning here would be that much more special. It's obviously a great tournament with a great field, so that would be a good feather in your cap. But obviously I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow," De Jonge said.

Meanwhile on the European Tour, Jamie Donaldson is also closing in on a first win at the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.

The 36-year-old Welshman shot a third round 69 on Saturday to finish on 12-under par, one stroke ahead of England's Anthony Wall.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington is two shots off the pace after a level-par 72 left him tied for third with England's Mark Foster.

Donaldson is seeking to end a run of 254 starts in Europe without a win.

"I've had a few chances, but at the end of the day I've not been good enough so far to stand on the last green holding the trophy," he said, reported.

"You've got to keep trying and it's one shot at a time, one hole at a time. The only person I am playing against, I suppose, is myself. I've got to stay out of my own way," he added.

"Obviously Padraig is a class player, but it's me versus me really."

England's Paul Waring (73) slipped to fifth on Saturday with a one-over par 73 while Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Scotland's Craig Lee, Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen are all a shot further back in sixth place.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Italy's Francesco Molinari are currently in a 14-way tie for 11th place, six shots off the lead.

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