Dustin Johnson takes two-shot lead into final round of Saudi International
World number one Dustin Johnson will take a two-shot lead into the final round as he bids to win the Saudi International for the second time in three years.
Johnson, who was also runner-up in 2020, completed a delayed second round of 64 on Saturday morning and then added a 66 to reach 13 under par, with France’s Victor Perez also shooting 66 to lie in second place on 11 under.
Tyrrell Hatton, who won in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, is a shot further back alongside fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan, American Tony Finau and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
After completing the final four holes of round two in one under par, Johnson began the third round a shot off the lead shared by Ryan Fox and Stephen Gallacher.
Four birdies in the first 10 holes saw the Masters champion cruise into a two-shot lead and his only blemish of the week so far came when he found the water with his approach to the 13th to run up a double-bogey six.
“Felt like I played really well all day, other than 13, but I didn’t think I hit that bad a shot,” said Johnson, who birdied the 17th and 18th to give him a stroke average of 66.18 from his 11 rounds at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
“I pushed it a hair right of the flag but just came up well short of where I thought it would and ended up making six there.
“But other than that, I drove it well and hit a lot of really good iron shots in there to give myself a lot of good chances at birdie. Didn’t hole a whole lot of putts, but finishing nicely definitely helped the day out.
“I like the golf course. I think it sets up good for me. I’ve liked it since the first time I came here a couple of years ago. I feel like I’m swinging it well and giving myself all the chances tomorrow. Just need to hole a few putts.”
Perez carded four birdies in a bogey-free 66 and is relishing playing alongside Johnson in the final round as he looks to boost his chances of qualifying for a Ryder Cup debut in September.
“I think that’s as good as it gets and I’ll be very excited for the challenge,” Perez said. “I think this is all you strive for.
“I think the Tour is doing great at having some of those great players being here and playing and giving us the chance, mostly staying in Europe the last two years, of playing against those guys. It will be a great competition.”
Sergio Garcia’s 64 was the lowest round of the day and lifted the Spaniard into a seven-strong group on nine under par which also contains Viktor Hovland and Scotland’s Calum Hill.
Gallacher’s third round of 72 left him on eight under alongside Justin Rose, with Ian Poulter and US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau a shot further back.
Poulter was five under par after 10 holes before two late bogeys and said: “It’s utterly disgusting, is what it is. I’ve shot three under par and I’m fuming. It’s unbelievable.
“I could smash the living daylights out of everything right now. But that’s golf. It’s a great game. I’m trying to push to get back inside the top 50 in the world rankings.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well and I haven’t the last two weeks. I put myself in a position to perform great this week and I’m missing some chances. Just keep doing what I’m doing and maybe tomorrow they will go in.”
‘Stupid is as stupid does’ – Phil Mickelson criticises club length restriction
The R&A and USGA have brought in a ‘model local rule’ to limit all clubs other than putters to a maximum of 46 inches.
Top-level golf tournaments to be given option of imposing limit on club length
This could curb the big-hitting likes of Bryson DeChambeau in their continual quest for greater length off the tee.
THE CJ CUP: Vegas links that could help us hit the jackpot this week
The PGA Tour remains in Las Vegas this week and several players in the field have some home advantage which could prove significant.
Betting preview: Sam Burns to continue impressive form in the Shriners Children’s Open
The PGA Tour heads to Las Vegas this week and Planet Sport tipster Jack Kelliher has four selections for the tournament.
Feuding rivals Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka to clash in ‘The Match’
Tensions have run high between the pair since early 2019.
Four golfers to oppose short priced favourite Jon Rahm with in this week’s Open de Espana
The European Tour heads to Spain for three weeks and the action begins at Club de Campo Villa Madrid.
Danny Willett enjoys perfect birthday with Alfred Dunhill Links Championship win
The Englishman won for the first time in over two years.
Danny Willett in pole position to win Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
The major champion could be having a double celebration on Sunday.
Tyrrell Hatton takes one-shot lead into Dunhill Links Championship third round
Fellow Ryder Cup stars Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood were not far behind.
Solid start for Sungjae Im at Sanderson Farms Championship: Can he land a second PGA Tour title?
The Korean posted a first round of 67 at the Country Club of Jackson as he made his 2021/22 seasonal bow.