BLAINE, Minn. — Michael Thompson hasn’t experienced the anxiety and thrill of playing the last round of a tournament in the final group for several years.

This time, pitted against Richy Werenski in the 3M Open, he’ll do so without the murmuring, clapping and roaring sounds from the spectators. For Thompson, that’ll do just fine.

“It kind of allows me to keep my emotions even keel. That’s kind of the way I play golf. That’s what I like to do on the golf course,” Thompson said. “I don’t talk very much, and sometimes if I get too riled up or faced with a hard shot in front of a lot of people, I get a little nervous. I’m not going to lie about that. It’s just who I am. I think no fans, it’s going to allow me to be more composed.”

Werenski birdied three of the last four holes Saturday to erase a four-stroke deficit and catch Thompson for the lead. After sharing the halfway lead, Thompson and Werenski traveled vastly different paths to each shoot 3-under 68. They walked together to the clubhouse even again, tied at 15 under at the TPC Twin Cities.

“There’s still a lot of golf left. I just kind of want to keep hanging around, and hopefully something happens,” Werenski said.

Charl Schwartzel shot a 66 in the third round, pulling even with Tony Finau for third place at 13 under. Max Homa posted a 64, making a big jump to fifth at 12 under.

Thompson, who entered the week well below the cut for the FedEx Cup playoffs in 151st place, made three straight birdies on the front nine. The 35-year-old, whose only PGA Tour win was at the Honda Classic in Florida in 2013, knocked in another birdie on the 590-yard, par-5 12th hole to move to 16 under.

Thompson held a four-stroke lead until the 15th, when his game on the greens suddenly faltered. His 8-foot putt for birdie went long, and he settled for par.

Werenski, who was one spot off the FedEx Cup cut last season and came to Minnesota in 89th place, birdied the 15th hole to move up. So did their playing partner, Finau, making up for three earlier bogeys.

Thompson rolled a 15-footer too long on the 17th green, taking just his second bogey of the tournament as a light rain began to fall on another muggy and breezy afternoon in this suburb north of Minneapolis as the heat index reached the upper 90s.

Thompson, whose best finish on this virus-interrupted tour schedule was a tie for eighth at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, started No. 18 with even more trouble by hitting his drive into the water. There were 248 balls hit into water hazards over Thursday and Friday, the most through two rounds on the PGA Tour this season.

Thompson’s next try after the penalty stroke landed in the green-side bunker, but he saved par with a clutch chip out of the sand that landed 7 feet from the cup. Werenski, whose 63 in the first round is tied for the low score of the tournament, birdied that hole. That set up a Sunday duel, with a handful of competitors well within striking distance.

That includes Schwartzel, the 35-year-old South African who has two PGA Tour victories. He just missed an eagle on the 18th, when his 70-foot shot from the bunker almost dropped in.

“It was a slow motion lip-out,” Schwartzel said.

Homa, who missed the cut on four of his last five starts, had eight birdies.

“I guess it’s been, I don’t know, four or so months since I’ve been in any kind of heat other than the cut heat, so it was kind of nice to just keep doing what I was doing at the beginning of the season,” said Homa, who bogeyed the 17th.

Tringale made four birdies and an eagle over his first eight holes on the way to tying his career low score with a 63, last posted in 2011. He only needed 25 putts, giving himself an outside chance for his first win.

“Golf’s a game of confidence. I love where I’m at. I love where my game’s at,” Tringale said. “Sundays are a different day, so I’m excited about the opportunity.”


Italy’s Renato Paratore shot a 2-under 69 in the final round Saturday to win the British Masters in Newcastle, England. Mike Egerton/PA via Associated Press

EUROPEAN TOUR: Renato Paratore won the British Masters in Newcastle, England, for his second career victory on the European Tour, closing with a 2-under 69.

Paratore finished at 18 under, three strokes ahead of Rasmus Højgaard (70), as the European Tour made its full return following a four-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Justin Harding of South Africa was third after a 72, with three players – Andy Sullivan (67), Robert Rock (69) and Dale Whitnell (71) – in a tie for fourth.

Lee Westwood, the tournament host and the only player in the field who is in the world’s top 50, slumped to a closing 79 that included an 8 on the par-3 ninth hole. He finished in 70th place – last of the players who made the cut – after starting out as a favorite.

The tournament marked the start of the European Tour’s U.K. Swing – six events in England and Wales over the next six weeks devised primarily for ease of travel for players amid the pandemic.

The venues for the six events are all within a 3-hour drive of one another, scrapping the need for air travel. Players and caddies are being tested on arrival, and have to check for symptoms and take a temperature test daily.

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