WGC: Brendon Todd retains lead as Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka stay in touch
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Last Updated: 03/08/20 9:43am
Brendon Todd will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational after carding a one-under 69 in the third round at TPC Southwind.
The 35-year-old American's round lacked the consistency of his opening two efforts in Memphis but it was good enough to lift him to 12-under 198.
South Korea's Byeong Hun An is in second place on 11 under, with Rickie Fowler third on 10 under and defending champion Brooks Koepka fourth on nine under.
Todd, who claimed back-to-back PGA Tour victories in November, began the day two ahead of Fowler and extended his advantage with a birdie at the first.
His first bogey since the ninth hole on Thursday came at the fifth, but he refused to let it rattle him and recovered with a birdie at the eighth, before maintaining his calm demeanour on the back nine as he mixed three bogeys with three birdies, although he should have signed off with a birdie at the 18th where he missed from five feet.
Todd said: "Today was a little more difficult, cooler, a little more moisture out there. The winds were still up and swirling a little bit, so I thought the golf course still yielded great scores. But for me, made it a little more difficult and I was battling my swing a little bit, but I'm excited to be in this position and feel like if I can go out there and swing a little better and keep this putting momentum going, I'll be in good shape.
"I think the best that you can do in the final round is put up birdies because that's the ammo you need to keep moving up the leaderboard and hold a lead. Fortunately the golf course gives me a lot of chances. I've got some short irons in my hand and I'm putting well."
An stayed in touch with Todd thanks to a run of four successive birdies from the 13th which helped him to a four-under 66, but Fowler (69) struggled a little on the back nine where he had two bogeys to drop off the pace after playing the front nine in three under to briefly take the lead at one stage.
Koepka started where he left off on Friday with a double-bogey at the second and a bogey at the sixth to slip back to four under, but some excellent iron play saw him emerge from the doldrums in style with four straight birdies from the ninth and he added further gains at the 14th and 16th before a disappointing bogey at the 17th gave him a two-under 68.
Justin Thomas is only one behind Koepka on eight under courtesy of a 66, a score matched by Phil Mickelson, who mixed seven birdies with three bogeys.
Mickelson is seven under alongside Chez Reavie (70), Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, who salvaged a 69 thanks to a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th.
Fitzpatrick's compatriot Tom Lewis, who started on the 10th hole, stormed up the leaderboard with the round of the week so far, a nine-under 61 which featured 10 birdies, including five in a row from the 12th, and a lone bogey at the 18th.
He is now tied for 10th on six under, along with Open champion Shane Lowry, who failed to really build on three birdies over the first four holes, as he signed for a 67.
Lewis said: "I think when you shoot a score like that, everything's got to go your way. When I was out of position I was able to recover well, like 17. 18 is a tough tee shot. Unfortunately I was in the lip of the bunker, but other than that I was just really happy with everything.
"My putting was on point, I hit a lot of good shots, greens are perfect. If you don't get it on line, good speed, it's not going to go in, it's not going to come back, so obviously I was rolling it well."
Also on six under are South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who carded a 64, and Americans Webb Simpson, who double-bogeyed the 18th for a 69, Joel Dahmen, whose 65 included eight birdies in 11 holes from the second, Jason Day (69) and Sungjae Im (69).
Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood both failed to fire as they went round in three-over 73s to sit in a share of 53rd place on two over.