Pieters, Johnson share lead at Bridgestone Invitational

  • Pieters, Johnson share lead at Bridgestone Invitational

Pieters, Johnson share lead at Bridgestone Invitational

Zach Johnson and Thomas Pieters ended Saturday's third round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a share of the lead at nine-under.

Johnson is bidding for his first victory since he won the British Open in 2015.

"I said, 'Michael, just put the bag over there, stand over there and watch this, '" Spieth said.

Pieters made only three pars over his last 11 holes, yet he still has his best chance to win in America.

Scott Hend stormed into contention at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a superb 63, and the Aussie explained to Nick Dougherty why he was wearing Stars and Stripes shoes.

McIlroy again made a confident start and picked up a routine birdie at the second, but a blocked drive at the sixth led to a bogey which he clawed back with an approach to six feet at the ninth and got the putt to drop.

Rory McIlroy had a 69 and was among those three shots behind, while Jordan Spieth finished with two straight birdies and was four behind. Pieters is a three-time victor on the European Tour who showed his potential at the Ryder Cup a year ago and now has his best chance to win in America since winning the NCAA title while playing for IL.

Phil Mickelson and Australian Jason Day both shot 71 and are tied for 33rd.

Pieters built a big lead early with five birdies on his opening eight holes at Firestone, only to run into trouble off the tee. "I was able to judge the distance right and it kind of rolled up to the top of the hill and trickled back and went in". Stumbling out of the sand backward, he almost holed the shot and made birdie, and then he stuffed his approach to 3 feet for birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 70. "When my pace starts to feel good and I start to get dialed in, that is when I know I am hitting it good". He hit only one green in regulation on the front nine - 60 feet from the hole - and shot 40.

Johnson was often 50 yards behind McIlroy off the tee at Firestone Country Club, but carded a 65 to the Northern Irishman's 68 to finish nine under par alongside Belgium's Thomas Pieters.

"My ball striking was good, driver was not good. and I managed to score really well, so pretty happy". Johnson didn't make a single birdie in his round of 75 that knocked him 10 shots out of the lead heading into the final major of the year. Johnson birdied two of his last three holes for a 65 that gave him a 54-hole total of 9-under 201.

The 25-year-old responded immediately with another birdie on the 10th and although he bogeyed the 13th, 14th and 17th, birdies on the 16th and 18th completed an eventful 66.

American Jimmy Walker held the lead through two rounds, and then posted a 74 on Saturday to fall to 3 under. "I was just pouring in everything".