New Zealander Danny Lee has hurled himself into title contention in the country of his birth as he capitalised on Justin Thomas’s final-hole error to join the American in the lead heading into the final round of the CJ Cup.
Thomas hit his approach shot into the hazard and bogeyed the par-five 18th in his round of two-under 70 for a 54-hole aggregate of 15-under 201.
“I just didn’t hit a lot of good putts that burned the edges and didn’t quite go in,” the 2017 winner said on Saturday after his round, which included five birdies and three bogeys.
“If a couple of those putts fall, I don’t make a bad bogey on 18 and the other two bogeys I made.
“Today easily could have been a 65 or 66, but to not really get anything out of it and still have a share of the lead going into Sunday is a good thing. It’s not too frustrating since I’m tied for the lead.”
Australian Cameron Smith shot identical 68 to trail the leaders by three shots with Wyndham Clark (67) and Jordan Spieth (70) one shot behind.
Incheon-born Lee sank a long eagle putt on the 18th in his 68 to grab his share of the lead at Nine Bridges Golf Club on the South Korean resort island of Jeju.
“It was a difficult round. Definitely more windy than yesterday or the day before. So the scores were not quite as low,” Lee said.
“I’ve never played exceptionally well in Korea so I also felt I could play better in front of my Korean fans.
“On top of that my parents and my wife are Korean and my grandad lives here so that would be great. I am glad I had a strong showing this week and hopefully I can say the same tomorrow.”
Defending champion Brooks Koepka withdrew before the third round after aggravating a knee injury.
Koepka, playing his second event since stem cell treatment on the knee August 25, shot a three-over 75 on Friday at Nine Bridges after opening with a 69.
Norwegian Viktor Hovland shot 74, snapping his PGA Tour record of 19 consecutive rounds in the 60s.