DUBLIN: Bryson DeChambeau birdied four of his last six holes to surge to a one-shot lead on Saturday going into the final round of the US PGA Tour’s Memorial tournament.
DeChambeau, 24 signed for a bogey-free 66 to move to 14-under 202 as the Californian looks to secure a second PGA Tour victory after capturing last year’s John Deere Classic.
Red-hot Chilean sensation Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay and Kyle Stanley were a stroke back on 203. Overnight co-leaders Niemann and Stanley both carded 70 while Cantlay’s 66 included two eagles, one of them a hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.
A further six players were within five shots of DeChambeau’s lead — including 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.
Woods briefly grabbed a share of the lead before stumbling with two bogeys in his last three holes.
South Korea’s An Byeong-hun was alone in fifth after a 69 for 204 and England’s Justin Rose carded a 69 for 206.
Woods posted a 68 to head a group on 207 that also included Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (71).
DeChambeau, ranked 38th in the world, kick-started his push to the top of the board with birdies at the fifth and seventh holes. He posted back-to-back birdie “threes” at 13 and 14 and picked up a stroke at 16 before landing his 145-yard approach at the last five feet from the pin en route to a birdie.
“I just want to birdie every hole,” he said. “That’s all we’re trying to do out there.
“No matter if you’re one back or tied for the lead every hole is an opportunity to make a birdie and that’s just what I’m going to try and do every single day.”
DeChambeau said his brilliant putting display was his best since he captured the 2015 US Amateur title.
“I would say I’m putting the best I have in my life,” he said.
Woods ‘played beautifully’
Niemann, 19, highlighted his round with a 50-foot eagle putt at the par-five seventh.
He is contesting just a fifth US PGA Tour event since turning pro straight after the Masters in April, and the Santiago-born teenager said he will draw on his amateur successes as he tries to win on Sunday, when the field will tee off early from the first and 10th tee as organizers try to beat expected inclement weather.
“It’s a strong field on the leader-board and I think everybody’s going to go out there and try to make the most birdies possible,” Niemann said. “So I think that I have to go low tomorrow to have a chance.”
Woods rolled in a 14-foot eagle putt at the par-five fifth and was five-under for the day through nine.
The five-time Memorial winner missed a short birdie on 14 but gained a share of the lead at 11-under with a birdie at 15.
Three-putt bogeys at 16 and 18 quelled his momentum and Woods was left to wonder what could have been.
“I shot 68 today but, again, that’s probably the highest score I could have possibly shot today,” he said. “I played really, really well. I played beautifully, actually, had total control of what I was doing out there and just didn’t finish it off.”