Saturday's golf: Three-way tie in Malaysia; Stewart Cink lurking
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Gary Woodland birdied the 18th hole for a 5-under 67 to move into a three-way tie for the lead with Marc Leishman and Shubhankar Sharma after three rounds of the CIMB Classic on Saturday.
Woodland just missed an eagle putt, while Sharma (66) and Leishman (67) had to settle for pars on the par-five final hole. Playing in the last threesome of the day, the leading trio had 54-hole totals of 19-under 197 on the TPC Kuala Lumpur West course.
They had a two-stroke lead over Louis Oosthuizen, who moved up the leaderboard with a 65, and first-round leader Bronson Burgoon (67) in the first of three U.S. PGA Tour events in Asia.
Woodland equaled the course record of 61 on Friday that Justin Thomas shot on his way to winning the event in 2015. The American was again consistent.
“Kind of got a little loose there a little bit on the back nine, maybe ran out of gas a little, but it was nice to finish up with a birdie and get some momentum going into tomorrow,” Woodland said.
Leishman had an eagle and three birdies on his first five holes to be 5 under, but was 1 over on the back nine with bogeys on the 11th and 13th after a birdie on the 10th.
“Happy with the round, gave myself a good chance tomorrow, so hopefully I can be hot like I was that first 10 holes today,” Leishman said.
Sharma has already won in Malaysia this year when he clinched the Maybank Championship in February.
“Good thing is that I’ve been in this position before so I know what happens and what my mind goes through, so I’ll just try and relax myself as much as possible,” Sharma said. “The way I’m playing, I’m pretty sure I’ll play well tomorrow as well.”
Stewart Cink shot 63 for the low round of the day and was four strokes off the lead. Thomas, trying to win the tournament for the third time in four years, had a 69 and was at 12-under, seven behind.
Brian Stuard (Jackson/Oakland) shot a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for 50th.
In Cary, N.C., Bernhard Langer birdied three of the final four holes for a 5-under 67 and a share of the SAS Championship lead with Gene Sauers.
A day after nearly shooting his age with a 62 to match Sauers and Tom Lehman for the first-round lead, the 61-year-old Langer kept pace with Sauers at 15-under 129.
Langer had six birdies and a bogey at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He won the Insperity Invitational in May in Texas for his 37th PGA Tour Champions victory.
“It’s very important to get back in the rhythm and hit some good shots, which I settled down after I caught a not so good patch in the middle of the round,” Langer said. “Started off great with two birdies, actually three birdies in the first five and then didn’t get up-and-down on 7, the par 5, or hit a bad second shot. It was reachable for me. Ran into a bad patch there where I just struggled with my iron game mostly, but then pulled it all together toward the end.”
Sauers birdied two of the last three holes.
“I just told myself, ‘Same thing today,’” Sauers said. “I was just kind of taking right aim at it and just playing my game. The putts, it was a little tougher today. Of course, I didn’t hit it as close as I did the day before, obviously.”
He won the 2016 U.S. Senior Open for his lone victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Lehman had a 70 to drop three strokes behind his playing partners in the final event for the top 72 players to qualify for the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs.
“Gene played great. Tom played really good earlier and then didn’t finish quite as strong,” Langer said. “There’s a lot of good players out here, you’ve just got to keep the pedal down.”
Jerry Kelly was 11 under after a 67.
Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) shot a 2-under 70 and was tied for 15th, 10 shots back.
In Walton Heath, England, Eddie Pepperell will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the British Masters after a 1-under 71 as he looked for his second European Tour title and a likely place in next year’s Masters.
Pepperell was on 9-under 207 at Walton Heath with fellow Englishman Jordan Smith (70), Sweden’s Alexander Bjork (68), American Julian Suri (69) and France’s Julien Guerrier (70) tied for second.
A victory Sunday would take Pepperell into the world’s top 35 and almost certainly secure a Masters debut in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year at Augusta National in April.
The 27-year-old Pepperell began the day with a three-shot lead and was four clear when he holed from 14 feet for an eagle on the par-five 11th, with playing partners Smith and Matt Wallace (73) remarkably doing likewise.
Smith also birdied the 12th after Pepperell three-putted and another birdie on the 15th took Smith within two shots of the lead, only for him to drop a shot on the next.
Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood was seven shots off the pace after rebounding from a 77 on Friday with a 70, while Ryder Cup teammate and tournament host Justin Rose was another stroke adrift following a 69.
A top-two finish on Sunday would see Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September.
“That hasn’t actually been on my mind,” Rose said. “It’s going to be tough to get there as I’ve got a lot of points to defend, but I’ve just got to focus on playing well.”
In Incheon, South Korea, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull shot 4-under 68s to retain the lead after three rounds of the KEB Hana Bank Championship.
Ariya Jutanugarn was one stroke behind after a 69.
Local favorite In Gee Chun shot a 66 and was two back and tied for fourth with Minjee Lee (67) and Lydia Ko (68) at 10 under.
No. 1-ranked Sung Hyun Park, who shared the overnight lead, carded a 71 that included three bogeys and a double bogey.
Kang started with two early bogeys but carded her sixth birdie of the day on the par-five 18th to finish at 12-under 204 with Hull, who also birdied the final hole in a bogey-free round at the Sky 72 Ocean Course.
“I got off to a really slow start,” Kang said. “My caddie talked me through a lot of shots and kept me together when I was getting annoyed. I’m a leaderboard watcher but he just kept telling me, ‘You’re putting great,’ and that kept me in the game.”
Ariya got to 11 under at the turn, but bogeyed the 10th and could birdie only 13th.