Laird increases lead to 3 in Phoenix

Martin Laird of Scotland increased lead to three strokes over Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan in the Waste Management Phoenix Open by carding a 3-under-par 68 in the third round at TPC Scottsdale.

Laird, seeking his fourth victory on the PGA Tour, followed two scores of 66 with another solid round, overcoming three bogeys with six birdies after making only one bogey in the first 36 holes.

“My short game has been really good, especially my putting,” said Laird, who has not won since the 2013 Valero Texas Open. “I poured in a few long ones today and that always helps.

“I’ve got to keep doing the same thing, keep firing away, because guys can shoot low scores out here. I feel really comfortable out there and I think my game is back to where it should be after I struggled last year.”

Matsuyama, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the Memorial Tournament last year by beating Kevin Na in a playoff, posted a bogey-free 63 with birdies on the last four holes, while Koepka birdied six holes on the back nine in a 64 and Johnson made only one bogey in a 67.

Amateur Jon Rahm of Spain, who plays at nearby Arizona State, thrilled the local fans with a 66 and was four shots back in a tie for fifth with Ryan Palmer, who had a 68, and rookie Justin Thomas, who came in with a 69.

Francesco Molinari of Italy made a hole in one from 133 yards on the stadium-like 16th hole en route to a 64 and was five strokes behind in a tie for eighth.


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