Travelers Championship: Bubba Watson shares lead as Dustin Johnson makes big move
Bubba Watson retained his hopes of emulating the late, great Billy Casper's record of four Travelers Championship titles as the left-hander goes into the final round tied for the lead, with Jason Day just one back; watch the final round live on Sky Sports Golf
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 27/06/21 12:17am
Bubba Watson kept himself in contention for a record-equalling fourth Travelers Championship title after claiming a share of the lead after the third day in Connecticut.
Watson's two-under 68 was enough to top the leaderboard alongside Kramer Hickok, while Jason Day bogeyed the last to slip a shot behind with fellow Australian Cameron Smith and Russell Henley.
Star-draws Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are just three shots off the pace going into the final round, while Ian Poulter is four behind after a disappointing back nine at TPC River Highlands.
Watson also found the inward run a tougher prospect than the first nine, which he covered in 32 with three birdies before he three-putted on two of the par-threes after the turn and dropped another shot at 14, although he did claw shots back at the 15th and 17th.
The left-hander gave himself a great chance to birdie the last after flicking a wedge to five feet, but his putter was again off target as he stayed at 10 under with Hickok, who had earlier bogeyed the last two holes to take the gloss off his 68.
Day was grinding out the pars for most of his round and was one under for the day after two birdies against one mistake, but a pulled drive into sand at the last led to another dropped shot as he settled for a 70.
The former PGA champion is still struggling with a stiff back, but he was also hampered by various allergies and was grateful that playing-partner Watson had remembered to pack some eye drops.
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"I'm just stiff," said Day. "I had allergies out there, too, so that wasn't good. I was on 14 and I needed some eye drops and Bubba pulled them out of his pocket, so that was nice.
"But it's fine. It is what it is. I was just saying before it's not stopping me from hitting some good golf shots, which is nice."
Day found it tough to watch the US Open while he spent time with his family following the birth of his fourth child, and he is concerned that his back problems may scupper his hopes of a quick return to the world's top 50.
"Before this hiccup that I had at Memorial, I felt bulletproof, 100 per cent, like I never had a back pain in my life," he added. "I was just doing exercise and unfortunately tweaked it, and in the middle of the season you don't have time to kind of get it ready.
"I'm not 21 anymore, so it doesn't recover like it used to. I'm not really high on the FedExCup, so I've got to try and do something to get myself into the Playoffs.
"I've definitely got to try and do something to get myself inside the top 50 so I can get back into the majors. It's a pretty critical time for me. It's just hard to have an injury like this or not even an injury, but have a stiff back knowing that I have to go out and play. So I've just got to suck it up and just do it."
Smith's 66 had propelled him 17 places up the leaderboard, while Johnson moved 49 places upwards with his early 65 which he capped with his sixth birdie at the last to post the low round of the third day.
The leaders will also be looking over their shoulders at DeChambeau, who admitted he was still at odds with his swing but delighted to be in contention after a solid three-birdie 68 got him to seven under.
Poulter was just two off the lead until he three-putted the 13th green and ran up a bogey-six, and the Englishman dropped further shots at 16 and 18 to slip back to six under, one of 26 players within four shots of the lead.
Brooks Koepka is five behind after he struggled to make much happen in a 69, but Justin Rose made only one birdie against five bogeys as he followed up his second-round 63 with a 74 - three under for the tournament.