American Dustin Johnson produced a birdie-birdie finish to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International.
Dustin Johnson Leads Saudi International
Johnson has a phenomenal record in this event, winning in 2019 and finishing runner-up to Graeme McDowell last year.
The American started the day one shot behind leaders Ryan Fox and Stephen Gallacher, but a birdie at the first cut the deficit instantly.
Two pars followed, before a unexpected fourth hole saw the 36-year-old duff his second shot.
It didn’t phase the American though as he put his third shot to five-feet for another birdie.
Birdies at the eighth and 10th stretched his lead further over the pack.
But a costly second shot found the water on the 13th, leading to a double bogey and dropping the World Number One back into a share of the lead.
A run of pars followed, before a comfortable birdie on the short 17th put Johnson into the outright lead.
Playing the last, Johnson struck a crisp iron shot into the green to leave him a 10 foot putt for eagle. It just trickled by and a tap-in birdie was good enough for a 66 and a two-shot lead over Frenchman Victor Perez.
“It was definitely a nice finish, I had a short eagle putt on the last that was disappointing, but I played really solid.
“I had only one mistake that was on 13 from the middle of the fairway. I thought I hit a good shot, but it came up way short of where I thought it was going to” Johnson told Sky Sports.
“Every golf tournament I play in, I just want to give myself a chance on Sunday. I’m still going to have to go out and play well if I want to win, but I’m pleased with how I’ve played so far and feel I’m striking the ball well and driving it good.
“So if I can hit the driver well, and hit the fairway, then I’ll play well tomorrow” He added.
Johnson’s nearest challenger, Victor Perez, managed to keep a bogey off his scorecard, as his four-under 66 put him outright second.
Perez will be challenged closely by Englishman Tyrrell Hatton; who already has one win this season, coming at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
A four-under-par round of 66 moved 29-year-old Hatton into contention, alongside the trio of Tony Finau, Andy Sullivan and Søren Kjeldsen.
The round of the day came from Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who vaulted himself up the leaderboard and into a tie for seventh.
The 41-year-old mixed seven birdies with a solitary bogey to shoot a six-under-par 64.
Overnight leaders Fox and Gallacher both struggled during the third round, with both men finishing over par for the day.
Fox mixed four bogies with three birdies for a one-over-par 71, whilst Gallacher never really got going after finding water at the third hole, as he signed for a two-over 72.
Ian Poulter was left raging after his round of 67. The Englishman had been five-under-par after 10 holes, before two bogies on the back nine halted his charge.