May 5 (Reuters) - Long-shot Max Homa built a three-shot lead before bad weather halted play late in the final round at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday.
Homa belied his world ranking of 417, hitting a trusty fade with his driver and putting with assurance as he left his better-known rivals battling to stay in touch.
The 28-year-old Californian picked up four birdies to go to 15 under par at Quail Hollow.
He faced a testing five-foot putt to save par on the 14th hole when play was stopped ahead of an approaching thunderstorm.
Fellow American Joel Dahmen, who started the day tied for the lead with Homa and Jason Dufner, had just birdied the 14th to improve to 12-under.
Englishman Justin Rose was seemingly the only other player in with a chance, 11-under after 14 holes.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia three-putted the 16th green after misjudging his long first putt, falling back to 10-under.
Two-times Quail Hollow winner Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare stretch mid-round, missing good birdie chances at the seventh and eighth holes before going bogey, double-bogey at the next two holes to drop out of contention.
Leader Homa was relaxed enough to do a television interview while waiting out the weather delay.
“It’s obviously not ideal but you just have to deal with it,” he said referring to the delay.
“It’s tough (playing with the lead) but I feel like I’m doing a good job. There’s a little added pressure and you just have to keep your mental game a little stronger.
“I’m very aware of how I’m thinking and how I’m acting. My game feels good, so that’s my main focus, let my game show. So far, four-under through 14 holes is pretty good.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)