(Reuters) – Tony Finau made an excellent par-save at the last to join Henrik Stenson and Jon Rahm at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Saturday.
Finau recovered from an early bogey to card a five-under-par 67, while halfway co-leaders Stenson and Rahm shot matching 69s at Albany on the island of New Providence.
At 13-under 203, the trio headed Gary Woodland by two strokes with one round remaining at the tournament, which boasts a strong field but is not an official PGA Tour money event.
Tournament host Tiger Woods signed for a 72 to bring up the rear in the 18-man field. He has made a double-bogey or worse in each of the three rounds so far.
A moderate breeze made for relatively difficult scoring conditions with a 66 the best of the day, carded by both Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed.
Finau took advantage of his power to birdie four of the five par-fives but it was a deft touch at the par-four 18th that impressed as much as anything else he did.
After a poor second shot left his ball in a tough spot in the rough, he flopped a delicate recovery shot to 12 feet and sank the putt to save par.
“I took care of the par-fives, and on this golf course, we
have five of them, I think that’s what you have to do to play well,” said Finau, making his debut in the event.
Swede Stenson leads the field in birdies, fairways hit and greens in regulation but he said there was still room for improvement.
“I’ve hit some brilliant shots but I wouldn’t say I’m firing 100 percent,” he said.
“It’s a little bit of a battle at times. I’m just trying to do the best I can and keeping a good attitude.
“I’ve done that so far and I intend to do the same tomorrow to see if we can be there at the end when it matters.”
Spaniard Rahm was disappointed not to have the sole lead after a birdie putt at the last failed to drop.
“You get a sour taste in your mouth when you lip-out on 18,” he said.
“At the same time, three-under (on Saturday), tied for the lead, I would have taken it at the start of the week.”
Alex Noren bounced back from a triple-bogey at 16 with a hole-in-one at the very next hole.
Noren used a nine-iron from 181 yards to ace the 17th, his ball landing softly a couple of feet in front of the cup and trickling in.
It was part of a wild five-hole stretch for the Swede, who also birdied the 14th, eagled 15 and picked up another shot at the last.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford)