World Number One Dustin Johnson finished with back-to-back birdies to take a two shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers as he attempts to win the title for a second time in three years.
Johnson pulled clear of the star studded field with four birdies in his opening ten holes, but his momentum was briefly halted by a double bogey six on the 13th. He restored his two stroke advantage by birdieing the two closing holes for a third round of 66.
At 13 under par total the American is in pole position to add to his impressive record at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, having claimed the inaugural title in 2019 and then finished runner up to Graeme McDowell 12 months ago.
His nearest challenger is France’s Ryder Cup hopeful Victor Perez who carded a round of 66 to move to 11 under par, while English pair Tyrrell Hatton (66) and Andy Sullivan (68), Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen (65) and American Tony Finau (67) are all three shots back on ten under.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia posted the lowest round of the day, a six under par 64, and is one of seven players in a share of seventh position on nine under par, along with Norway’s Viktor Hovland (67) and former World Number One Martin Kaymer (66).
“It was a good finish. I felt like I played really well all day, other than 13, but I didn’t think I hit that bad a shot. 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 6 there.
“But other that 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 years ago. I feel like I’m swinging it well and giving myself all the chances tomorrow. Just need to hole a few putts.”
“The course was a bit more challenging on the back. There were some really good pin positions, I think. 11 was tough. 12 was tough. 13 was tough. 14 was tough. It was just hard to get close. I think if you give yourself looks, but 20, 25 feet it’s harder to make putts compared to the front where there were more back stops and the par 5 was playing downwind and hit a good shot into 3 but it feeding towards the hole. A bit more accessible and I was able to take advantage. Happy to have made one on 17.
“(Playing with Dustin Johnson) obviously that’s as good as it gets. I’ll be very excited for the challenge. 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, playing against those guys, it will be a great competition.”
“Overall pretty happy with that. Feel like I putted pretty well today whereas other days, didn’t really hole too much. That was the difference, really, today, even though the score was one shot better than round one or two, I just felt uncomfortable on the greens.
“I just need to go out there tomorrow and try and shoot as low as possible. Try my best and see what happens. I’m pretty happy with that score today. I felt pretty comfortable on the greens and felt like I was hitting the lines better today, and I feel like I haven’t really done that the previous days. I’ll take confidence from that going into tomorrow.”