Patrick Reed, chasing his first victory since capturing last year’s Masters, fired a four-under par 67 to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the US PGA Northern Trust tournament.
The 29-year-old American made five birdies against his first bogey of the week to stand on 14-under par 199 after 54 holes at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“The biggest thing is continue to hit the ball as well as I’ve been hitting it and allow that to free up my putter,” Reed said.
Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, seeking his first PGA title, was second on 200 with Spain’s Jon Rahm and American Brandt Snedeker on 201 and England’s Justin Rose and Danny Willett and American Harold Varner another stroke adrift.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, shared eighth on 203.
Reed sank a 17-foot birdie putt at the third hole, put his approach to four feet to birdie the par-5 sixth then blasted from a bunker to four feet and birdied the par-5 eighth.
After starting the back nine with a birdie, Reed suffered his only bogey so far this week at 15, finding a fairway bunker and bouncing off a cart path into tree-side brush.
But Reed answered with a 10-foot birdie at 17 that lifted him into the lead alone after Ancer had taken a three-putt bogey at 16.
Reed hadn’t managed a top-10 finish since last October in China until six weeks ago with a share of fifth in Detroit, which heralded a 10th-place showing at last month’s British Open.
“I sat down and looked at it and realized I’m a lot closer than it (seemed),” Reed said. “So I looked at it with a fresh mind and things are starting to pay off.”
Ancer ran off three birdies in a row form the 12th to 14th holes, sinking putts of about seven feet each time, to seize the lead on Reed’s bogey, only to stumble back with his own bogey at 16.
“I know I’ve got to play well,” Ancer said. “I played well today. It was really tough. Just keep my blinders on and make as many birdies as possible.
“I feel like I’ve been there. I know what it’s going to be like. I’m going to take it like any other day, one shot at a time.”
Rose was pleased to be only three off the pace after birdies at 16 and 17 and a closing par to finish on 69.
“Anything under 70 this afternoon was a good score,” he said. “To finish strong, to give myself a sniff tomorrow, is exciting.”
– Johnson, Spieth stumble –
Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, who topped the leaderboard after 36 holes, struggled in the winds. Johnson hit only three fairways and matched Spieth in shooting 74.
Snedeker charged into contention with two eagles and five birdies to shoot the day’s low round of 63.
“It was one of those days where my good shots were really good and I was able to survive my bad ones,” Snedeker said.
“I didn’t make anything the first two days so it was nice to see everything go in today.
Willett had three birdies and an eagle in the last six holes but ended with a bogey.
“Did all right. It’s awfully windy out there. To get it close is kind of tricky,” Willett said. “It was nice to make a couple birdies on the inward holes. We’ve given ourself a chance for tomorrow.”