Justin Suh has been a winner before, but not on the PGA Tour.
Suh, from San Jose and USC, shot three-under par 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita and rookie Eric Cole of Palm Springs heading to the final round of the Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, on the outskirts of Tokyo.
This is the fourth of seven tournaments in the PGA Tour’s Fall Series.
“I think the experience of the Korn Ferry Tour was huge, and I think throughout this year I’ve put myself in this position a few times in some big tournaments,” said Suh, who captured the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Championship. “Every week you put yourself in this position you learn a little more.
“I’m very satisfied with the way I played today. I think, overall throughout the day, we just tried to find fairways and greens. Obviously, in the beginning I missed a few greens, but I was on the correct side. And I thought making those critical up-and-downs was huge in the beginning of the round.
“Just take it a shot at a time. I think that’s the most important thing. Just kind of be aware of myself, aware of the conditions. I think that’s all you can do.”
Suh, who tied for sixth in the Players Championship, made three birdies on the first eight holes in his 67 en route to recording a 54-hole score of nine-under-par 201.
Cole, who also is seeking his first PGA Tour victory after winning 12 times on the Minor League Golf Tour, made three birdies on each nine in his 66, while second-round leader Hossler, also looking for his first title, also had three birdies on the first eighth holes in his 68.
“A lot of times, everyone’s so good out here, it seems like you have to play perfectly,” saic Cole, who is the son of former LPGA Tour star Laura Baugh. “Most of the time, in my experience, if you just stick to your game and play solid, you’ll have at least a chance.”
Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, the first-round leader, had four birdies on the last six holes to shoot 66 and is two shots behind in solo fourth, while Emiliano Grillo of Argentina made four birdies on the front nine in a 68 and is one more down in a tie for fifth with Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, who made two birdies and one bogey in a 69.
Kurt Kitayama of Chico and UNLV birdied five of the first seven holes and then the last two in a 64 and is four strokes behind in solo seventh, while J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State birdied the first and last holes in a 69 and is five back in a tie for eighth with Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, who made three birdies down the stretch in another 69, and Cam Davis of Australia, who had three birdies and two bogeys in one more 69.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, made five bogeys on the back nine while struggling to a 73 and is tied for 21st, sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State had only one birdie while stumbling to a 75 and is tied for 31st, and local favorite Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, the 2021 Zozo winner, had three birdies in a 68 and is tied for 43rd.
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