Memphis, Tenn. — Andrew Putnam will be playing in the last group on Sunday for the first time looking for his first PGA Tour victory.
His playing partner will be Dustin Johnson, who’s already won once this year and needs his 18th career victory to reclaim his spot as the world’s top-ranked golfer .
No pressure at all.
“It’s going to feel a little different than the typical Sunday round of golf, but I’m excited for it,” Putnam said. “I’ve earned my way here and I feel like it’s going to be a fun day. See what happens.”
Putnam matched the best round of his short PGA Tour career Saturday with a 6-under 64 and tied Johnson atop the leaderboard at the St. Jude Classic. Johnson had a 65 to match Putnam at 15-under 195 and said he’s in great position going into Sunday.
“I can kind of control my own destiny,” Johnson said. “If I go out and play really good golf, probably going to win. If I don’t, I’m sure Andrew’s going to beat me. He’s playing really good right now. It’s pretty simple.”
A two-time winner on the Web.com Tour, Putnam birdied No. 18 to tie up Johnson once again after a bogey-free round and consecutive 64s. Putnam, who joined the tour in 2015, has had only one bogey through 54 holes here.
“I’m happy with everything I’ve been doing,” said Putnam, 29, from Washington.
Stewart Cink, who had a hole-in-one on No. 8, matched his low round of the year with a 64 to get to 10 under.
Ricky Werenski got to 10 under but bogeyed No. 18 to finish with a 68. He was tied with Bryan Wesley (69) at 9 under. Brandt Snedeker (70) was at 7 under.
Johnson and Putnam, a 29-year-old from Washington with a pair of Top 10s this year on tour, quickly turned the third round at TPC Southwind into a two-man race.
Playing in the final group, Johnson opened with a birdie after hitting his approach to 6 feet on No. 1. Putnam, a group ahead, birdied three of his first four holes and took the lead to himself briefly at 12 under by rolling in from 31 feet for birdie on No. 5.
A tee shot way left on the par-5 No. 3 cost Johnson a penalty and a drop making par the best he could do. Johnson tied Putnam with a birdie on No. 5. But the man trying to get back to No. 1 before going to the U.S. Open bogeyed No. 9 after hitting his tee shot into the right rough and two-putting from 14 feet.
“I hit two bad drives on both the par 5s, I just kind of pulled them both,” Johnson said. “That was it. Other than that, I’m really swinging my irons well.”
Johnson rebounded with a birdie on No. 10 hitting his second from 152 yards to 8 feet and tied Putnam again. Putnam rolled in a 22-footer for birdie on No. 12 to reach 13 under only to see Johnson sink an 8-footer for birdie on No. 13 to tie him up again.
Looking for a victory before going to Shinnecock Hills, Johnson birdied No. 13. On No. 15, he hit his approach 130 yards to within 4 feet for birdie and birdied the par-5 No. 16 after hitting out of the bunker to 5 feet to become the first to reach 15 under.
Putnam rolled in from 17 feet to wrap up his round with a share of the lead, and Johnson could only settle for a two-putt for par.
Cink, who last won The Open Championship in 2009, missed the cut at both the Players Championship and Memorial last week. He took advantage of the par 3s with two birdies and his hole-in-one to keep close to Johnson and Putnam.
“It can be a little bit of a shock when it happens and suddenly you find yourself right up there in the mix and you’ve got to reset yourself,” Cink said of his hole-in-one. “But I did a really good job the rest of the way and I’m proud of that, and I look forward to tomorrow.”
Sei Young Kim birdied seven of her last 10 holes for a share of the lead with Celine Herbin in the suspended second round of the ShopRite LPGA at Galloway, New Jersey.
Kim was 10 under for the tournament with three holes left when play was suspended because of darkness.
Herbin had her second straight 5-under 66.
Hebrin birdied No. 18 after play resumed following a delay of nearly three hours because of lightning strikes in the area. The Frenchwoman left her job as a biochemical engineer at age 27 to become a professional golfer.
Kim, a six-time LPGA Tour winner, was one of 36 players unable to complete the round.
Mariah Stackhouse (65), Annie Park (65), Ashleigh Buhai (66) and Su Oh (two holes left) were two strokes back. Stackhouse is trying to become the tour’s first black winner.
Two-time champion Anna Nordqvist had a 73 to drop from a tie for first to a tie for 34th at 3 under.
Tom Lehman shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions’ Principal Charity Classic at Des Moines, Iowa.
Lehman eagled the par-5 eighth and played a 10-hole stretch in 7 under before dropping a stroke on the par-4 18th. He had a 13-under 131 total, the best two-round score at Wakonda Club.
From neighboring Minnesota, Lehman has finished in the top 10 in each of his first six appearances in Iowa, but the 1996 British Open champion has never won the event.
First-round leader Bernhard Langer had a 69 to fall into a tie for second with Glen Day (68), Woody Austin (68) and Scott Parel (66).