WGC Invitational: Bryson DeChambeau just two behind Harris English after third round in Memphis
An eight-birdie 63 gets Bryson DeChambeau within touching distance of long-time leader Harris English on day three of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational. Watch Sunday's final round live from 5:30pm on Sky Sports Golf.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/08/21 11:51pm
Bryson DeChambeau powered into contention for a first World Golf Championship title as Harris English maintained his lead at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.
Despite losing around 10lbs in weight after a bout of Covid-19 which knocked him out of the Olympics, DeChambeau defied the stifling heat in Memphis to fire a third-round 63 which swept him into a share of second place with Cameron Smith on 16 under par - two shots adrift of the in-form English.
DeChambeau made eight birdies on day three, all of them from inside 10 feet as he frequently peppered the pin with a series of precise approaches, particularly on the back nine as he raced home in just 30 shots.
"It was beautiful to be able to score really well. I didn't feel like my ball-striking was perfect, but I got it around really well and I was very pleased with it," said DeChambeau, who was the subject of yet more controversy earlier this week when he insisted he would not be getting vaccinated against coronavirus.
"It was awesome being able to strike it that close to the hole all day. I didn't feel as comfortable as I would have liked with the swing, but the results were there so I was very pleased with the results. And honestly, if I can do that again tomorrow, I give myself a great chance to win."
DeChambeau also revealed his significant weight loss after contracting Covid-19 has affected his power, but improved his accuracy off the tee.
Asked what effect his illness had had on his game, he added: "Not much, just a little lower ball speed, but I'll get that back real quickly. It's honestly kind of helped me this week hit it in the fairway, I don't know why."
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English produced another calm and composed performance to stay on course for a wire-to-wire victory, and his third of an outstanding season, the American making three birdies over the last six holes to complete a bogey-free 65.
The 32-year-old leads on 18 under ahead of DeChambeau and Smith, who was level par for the day after eight holes and losing ground on the leaders until he birdied the ninth and picked up four shots in a resolute back-nine 31.
"There's a lot of good players behind me and my goal is just stick to my strategy and execute and whatever happens, happens," said English, who did well to par the first seven holes before holing a 25-foot birdie putt at the eighth to lift his spirits and restore his confidence.
"Through a 72-hole golf tournament, you're going to have nine holes like that where you're not hitting it quite as good as you want to, you're scrapping it around," he added.
"That's why I work so hard on my short game because I know some of those times are going to come and you've got to grind through it, got to make some tough pars, and then when you start hitting it good, hit it close and you can make some birdies.
"That's kind of how the round went today. It was a slow start, made a good putt on eight, hit it close on nine and that kind of got the round going.
"I can't control what everybody else is doing. I can't really put a number out there, but if you play good golf out here, you can shoot seven or eight under. So who knows what it's going to take, but I've got to keep doing what I'm doing and we'll see where it is after 18."
Abraham Ancer was tied for the lead on 16 under when he made his fifth birdie of the day at the long 16th, but two poor drives on 17 and 18 resulted in a bogey, bogey finish and a disappointing 67 which left him four behind English heading into the final round.
Ian Poulter continued to enhance his claims for another Ryder Cup appearance with a 67 lifting him to 13 under, with his fellow English veteran Paul Casey a further two strokes behind along with world No 2 Dustin Johnson and major nearly-man Louis Oosthuizen.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, completed back-to-back 66s to get to six under for the tournament and admitted he is still making adjustments to his equipment as he continues to rebuild his game under swing coach, Pete Cowen.
"I went to a slightly shorter driver just before the US Open, which has helped," he said. "Then I tweaked it slightly at the Scottish Open, I went to like a quarter of a degree less loft, and I just feel like I've got a little more freedom with it.
"I know what I do well with the driver, I've done it my whole career. I turn big, wide, wind up and then hang on my right side and throw my arms and my body at it. I was trying to go away from using my talent and my hands and trying to just do it all with body turn and try to make it very mechanically efficient.
"But I sort of came to the realisation that I'm pretty good with my hands and I'm pretty good at matching it up and it's okay to rely on your talent.
"I've always been a little uneasy with the 'talented' tag because I feel like I work hard and it was probably a part of my mentality and my ego to go, no, I'm going to drive the ball well with hard work and dedication. But if that's my talent, I may as well use it to the best of my ability."