Miami – Defending champion Paul Casey clung to a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Dustin Johnson regardless of a closing bogey in Saturday’s third spherical of the US PGA Tour Valspar Championship.
The 41-year-old Englishman missed a 14-foot par putt on the par-Four 18th and settled for a bogey and a three-under par 68.
He stood on nine-under 204 after 54 holes on the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Johnson, a winner finally month’s WGC Mexico Championship, was subsequent on 205 after a 67 with fellow American Jason Kokrak third on 206 after a hole-in-one on his option to matching the week’s low spherical on 66.
Casey has struggled to defend titles and switch 54-hole leads into victories however he stands an opportunity of doing each on Sunday.
He has gained solely as soon as in 5 tries, and by no means damaged 70, when main a US PGA occasion after 54 holes. The win got here on the 2009 Houston Open with a bogey on the primary playoff gap to beat American J.B. Holmes.
Casey, who edged Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed by a stroke for the 2018 Valspar crown, has by no means defended an expert title.
However the British star has taken back-to-back titles a number of occasions as an beginner. He gained the 1999 and 2000 English Amateurs and three consecutive Pacific-12 Convention trophies whereas learning at Arizona State College.
Casey opened birdie-bogey after discovering bunkers on every gap, added a six-foot birdie putt on the par-Four sixth and made back-to-back birdie putts from three toes on the par-5 11th and eight toes on the par-Four 12th.
Casey stretched his result in three strokes with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th to achieve 10-under.
At 18, Casey discovered a fairway bunker then dropped his strategy into greenside sand and blasted out earlier than rolling his par putt simply off the suitable fringe of the cup.
Johnson fired his 14th consecutive spherical within the 60s, the longest such run of his profession or by any tour participant this season.
The World No. 1 sank a 33-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th and curled in a difficult 10-footer for birdie at 18 to affix Casey within the final pairing.
“It was a giant birdie,” Johnson mentioned. “I am in a superb place going into the spherical tomorrow. I performed a strong spherical. Missed a pair birdie alternatives however aside from that I performed very well.”
Kokrak, in search of his first PGA crown after 197 begins over eight seasons, aced the par-Three 15th with an Eight-iron from 218 yards.
Kokrak, who started the again 9 with three birdies on the primary 5 holes, delivered solely the third ace in match historical past at 15 when his ball bounced twice and rolled 25 toes into the cup, briefly giving him a share of the lead at seven-under.
“We had 194 to hold it into the downgrain half,” Kokrak mentioned. “It was into the wind. We knew if we flushed it, it could go proper in and it was good.”
Kokrak was making an attempt to maintain his feelings in verify regardless of the enjoyment of a hole-in-one.
“You’ll be able to’t get too excessive. You’ll be able to’t get too low,” he mentioned. “I made a superb swing there. I bought rewarded. You simply should make good photographs.”
Britain’s Luke Donald, a former world primary who has battled a again harm, started and ended with birdies in taking pictures 70 to share fourth on 207 with American Scott Stallings.
Main scores after Saturday’s third spherical of the PGA Valspar Championship at Palm Harbor, Florida (USA until famous, par 71):
204 – Paul Casey (ENG) 70-66-68
205 – Dustin Johnson 69-69-67
206 – Jason Kokrak 69-71-66
207 – Luke Donald 67-70-70, Scott Stallings 69-68-70
208 – Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-72-66, Nick Taylor (CAN) 71-70-67, Jim Furyk 69-71-68, Curtis Luck (AUS) 70-68-70, Im Sung-jae (KOR) 70-67-71, Austin Prepare dinner 69-67-72
209 – Matt Jones (AUS) 73-68-68, Brian Stuard 68-72-69
210 – Sam Burns 69-74-67, Russell Knox (SCO) 67-76-67, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 72-71-67, Harris English 75-68-67, Ryan Armour 70-72-68, Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 70-72-68, Bubba Watson 69-71-70
211 – Sepp Straka (AUT) 66-76-69, Denny McCarthy 68-74-69, Invoice Haas 72-70-69, Brian Homosexual 73-69-69, Jon Rahm (ESP) 71-68-72, Lucas Glover 72-67-72