KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) – Dustin Johnson has an extended sport and a brief reminiscence.
Johnson holed a 65-yard wedge shot down the hill and up the inexperienced for an eagle, and he powered his strategy to birdies on the par 5s at Kapalua for a 7-under 66 to construct a two-shot lead over Brian Harman going into the ultimate spherical on the Sentry Match of Champions.
The world’s No. 1 participant with a lead is a frightening prospect wherever, particularly on a course the place he’s a previous champion (2013) and has posted 20 out of his 30 rounds on the Plantation Course within the 60s.
Hope for the gamers chasing him comes from Johnson’s most up-to-date begin on the PGA Tour.
That was simply over two months in the past on the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, the place Johnson misplaced a six-shot lead at Sheshan Worldwide. Most peculiar about that day is Johnson nonetheless was up by three photographs, did not miss a fairway on the again 9 and nonetheless obtained beat.
Johnson says he did not even bear in mind Shanghai till it was talked about to him.
“Look, it was a very long time in the past,” he stated. “It is a fully totally different golf course. It was what? Two months in the past or one thing? So yeah, I will strive not to consider it tomorrow. Hopefully, I will not. However I simply must exit and play my sport and simply see what occurs.”
Johnson seized management shortly Saturday at Kapalua.
Coming off his lone bogey – a poor chip after his tee shot went simply over the again of the 11th inexperienced – he had 65 yards from fluffy tough, straight down the hill towards the Pacific to a inexperienced that was uphill however with the grain and the wind.
Johnson wasn’t certain how far it was, and that wasn’t actually vital.
“I used to be wanting simply left of the flag, however in need of the inexperienced,” he stated. “I knew as soon as it obtained on the inexperienced that it was going to be fairly good. And clearly, it went in. In order that was positively a pleasant bonus.”
The remainder of his spherical was energy golf. He drove pin-high on the reachable par-Four 14th up the hill and into the wind to arrange a easy chip-and-putt birdie. He had a brief iron into the inexperienced on the par-Four 15th to arrange a two-putt birdie. He saved par with a 10-foot putt on the 17th and two putts for birdie on the 18th capped off his day.
Johnson was at 16-under 203.
Harman could not hold tempo, dropping two photographs early on the again 9 till a late rally for a 69 to remain inside two photographs. Harman started the day tied with Marc Leishman, who did not make a birdie till the 16th gap and wound up with a 76 to fall 9 photographs behind.
Jon Rahm made up plenty of floor shortly with a birdie-eagle-birdie burst on the scoring holes in the course of the again 9. A remaining birdie gave the explosive Spaniard a 66 and left him inside vary at 4 photographs behind.
Johnson and Rahm have somewhat historical past. Rahm practically chased him down in Mexico Metropolis final yr in a World Golf Championship, after which three weeks later pushed him to the 18th gap within the remaining of Match Play, which turned out to be Johnson’s third straight victory.
Rahm loves being within the combine with Johnson, even when the end result hasn’t gone in his favor.
“Hopefully, I can play good down the stretch like I have been doing, simply begin somewhat higher on the entrance 9,” Rahm stated.
He did most of his harm on the three-hole stretch on the again 9 the place birdies can be found. He simply missed the reachable 14th and chipped to a foot for birdie, then hit his second shot on the par-5 15th to eight toes for eagle, and holed a difficult 10-foot putt on the 16th.
Rahm will play within the penultimate group with Rickie Fowler, who shot a 68 to succeed in 11-under 208. Jason Dufner shot 69 and joined Fowler 5 photographs behind.
Defending champion Justin Thomas spent extra time along with his father than he deliberate. Jimmy Johnson, his common caddie, had a big setback along with his foot and should be in a protecting boot for the subsequent month. Thomas put his father to work. He had a pair of double bogeys over the past 4 holes, sandwiched between birdies, shot 75 and was 18 photographs behind.
Jordan Spieth performed with Rahm and by no means obtained a lot getting in his spherical of 70, leaving him too far again.
Harman certified for the Match of Championship by making a 30-foot birdie putt on the ultimate gap to win the Wells Fargo Championship and keep away from a playoff with Johnson and Pat Perez.
“I am unable to management what Dustin does. He is a superb participant,” Harman stated. “He will be actually laborious to beat tomorrow, however attempting to do one thing I am not able to isn’t the best way to do it.”
Johnson will probably be going for his 17th victory on the PGA Tour courting to his rookie season 10 years. Johnson has did not win only one yr throughout his profession, in 2014.
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