(Reuters) – Brendon Todd held on to the lead at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Saturday, despite an uneven third round that saw him hit four bogeys and five birdies to finish the day at a one-under par 69.
Todd, who sunk a 22-foot putt for a birdie on eight, said he was battling with his swing throughout the day.
“I was just fading a little bit more off the tee than I would like to. And I generally do fade the ball a little bit off the tee, but I missed a handful of fairways,” said Todd, who won two PGA Tour titles on consecutive starts last November.
“You know, a yard right and that was just far enough from the fairway to end up with a pretty bad lie and not have a chance to get to the green.”
The 35-year-old American shot back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13, only to land in the water on 14, a costly mistake that rattled his typically calm demeanor.
“That’s the easiest to put on the green, to not hit in the water,” said Todd. “It was a swing that was out of rhythm that was a little bit too often today and to know I hit the water there, it made me pretty mad.”
An Byeong-hun sits one stroke behind Todd headed into Sunday’s final round. He landed in the water for a double-bogey on 11 before sinking four back-to-back birdies on 13 through 16, finishing with a four-under-par 66 at the fanless event.
“It feels like a practice round out there. There’s not many people watching and definitely was kind of a relaxing day, I think,” said An. “I didn’t get really tensed up.”
Rickie Fowler (69) ended the day two back from the lead after a pair of bogeys on the back nine dented an otherwise clean round.
“Thought I played a lot better than what I posted,” said Fowler, a five-time PGA Tour winner. “Struggled with some reads on greens. I felt – didn’t really feel I ever hit a putt necessarily offline of where I was trying to, they just didn’t go where I thought they’d go.”
Returning champion Brooks Koepka (68) slipped to fourth, shooting a double bogey on two and a bogey on six, before redeeming himself with five birdies on the back nine.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Daniel Wallis)