Patrick Reed has won each of the last four years on the PGA Tour, but 2017 has been something of a struggle.
However, Reed put himself in position to win again when he shot 5-under-par 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Alex Noren of Sweden and rookie Jon Rahm of Spain after three rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C.
Reed finished 54 holes at 8-under 208 and his lead could have been bigger, but he barely missed a 30-foot eagle putt on the final hole and settled for a tap-in birdie.
“I don’t know how that missed, but it’s always nice to have a no-stress birdie,” said Reed, whose only top-10 finish in 14 starts this season was a tie for sixth in the SBS Tournament of Champions in January at Kapalua.
“Today was the calmest of the three days so far, even though the wind was still blowing about 15 mph, so you can see that the scores are lower. It was nice to see some putts go in.
“I can just control what I do tomorrow, keep the ball in front of me and make some more putts.”
Noren, who played at Oklahoma State before winning eight times on the European Tour and now hopes to be successful on both major tours, held the lead before making his only bogey on the 16th hole.
Both he and Rahm, who won Farmers Insurance Open in January, finished at 69, with the Spaniard chipping in from 23 feet for a birdie on No. 18.
“I’m not that used to playing over here; it feels a little different, but some courses are similar,” said Noren, who won four times in Europe last year. “But it’s still golf and I am trying my best to get used to it. Only a few guys can (play both tours), with the travel and family considerations. I’m trying to adjust my game and life to be able to do it.
“I’ve played with Patrick Reed before and I know how good he is. It’s wide open tomorrow and I’m just going to try to play well and see what happens.”
Said Rahm: “I kept waiting for something good to happen on the back nine, but that chip-in was just a bonus.”
Francesco Molinari of Italy, who led after each of the first two rounds, made three bogeys and no birdies on his last 10 holes to shoot 72 and is two shots back in a tie for fourth.
Also in the tie for four are Seung-Yul Noh of South Korea, who made a 12-foot putt on the 17th hole in a 67, and Brian Harman and Vaughn Taylor, who both totaled 70.
Byeong Hun An of South Korea lipped out what would have been a double eagle from 231 yards on the last hole and his eagle capped a 69. That put him another shot behind in a tie for eighth with Zac Blair (69), Kevin Tway (69), Pat Perez (70), Nick Taylor (71) of Canada and Billy Hurley III (72).
World No. l Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since a back injury knocked him out of the Masters last month, finally got it going with four birdies in his last eight holes and his 67 left him four down in a tie for 14th that included Phil Mickelson, who carded a 69.
–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre