Tony Finau was treading water for most of the day until the final holes, when Justin Rose of England found the H2O.
Finau birdied the last three holes to shoot 2-under-par 70 and took a three-stroke lead over Rose, Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, and Patrick Reed after three rounds of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club http://www.sheshangolf.com/en/ in Shanghai, China.
“There was no need to panic,” said Finau, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. “Just play some good golf coming down the stretch, and I was able to do that.
“ … I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve got a world-class field chasing after me. This is the position you want to be in and I’ll be looking to close out my first tournament in this position, which is exciting for me. … I’m going to have fun no matter the outcome and hopefully make a lot of birdies and have those guys have to do something special tomorrow to beat me.”
The 29-year-old Finau, who overcame three bogeys with four birdies in the last six holes, posted a 54-hole score of 13-under 203. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt from off the 16th green, hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to within 18 inches of the cup for a short birdie, and holed 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole.
Third-ranked Rose, the defending champion, held a two-stroke lead until hitting into the water on the last two holes to finish double bogey-bogey for his own 70, while Schauffele had a 69 and Reed finished at 70.
“Three back going into tomorrow, which is not exactly how it looked like it was going to be with a couple holes to play,” said Rose, who is seeking his third WGC title. “There are three guys at 10-under who are all going to be chasing pretty hard, but nothing to lose tomorrow.
“It’s going to take a good round. I’m playing well, feeling good. Just got to put that last couple holes behind me and come out a little bit angry tomorrow.”
Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine shot 67 and is five back in a tie for fourth with Tommy Fleetwood of England, who had only a 72 thanks to a triple-bogey 8 on the 14th hole, while Keegan Bradley and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand are one more down in a tie for seventh after both shot 70.
Tenth-ranked Jason Day of Australia totaled 69 and is seven shots behind in solo ninth, while Thorbjorn Olesen of Norway finished at 67 and is eight back in a tie for 10th with Billy Horschel, who wound up at 71, and Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who struggled to a 73.
Top-ranked Brooks Koepka is tied for 28th after a 71, eighth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain shot 69 and is tied for 32nd, second-ranked Dustin Johnson is tied for 44th after a 73, fifth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland stumbled to a 75 and is tied for 60th, and sixth-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy also totaled 75 and is tied for 67th.
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