Johnson leads going into final round

Johnson leads going into final round

Dustin Johnson playing at the 2020 US PGA Championship
Former world number one Dustin Johnson has won one major – the 2016 US Open
-9D Johnson (US);-8C Champ (US), S Scheffler (US);-7P Casey (Eng), B Koepka (US), C Morikawa (US);-6T Fleetwood (Eng), J Rose (Eng), J Day (Aus), D Berger, B DeChambeau, T Finau (all US)
Selected others: -5Li Haotong (Chn);-3I Poulter (Eng);-1J Thomas (US), S Lowry (Ire);LevelR McIlroy (NI);+2T Woods (US);+4R MacIntyre (Sco)

Former world number one Dustin Johnson charged into the lead on a thrilling third day at the 2020 US PGA Championship in San Francisco.

The lead changed hands several times during the penultimate round, with the American hitting eight birdies in a five-under 65 to move to nine under.

Scottie Scheffler also shot a 65 at TPC Harding Park to trail by one with Cameron Champ, who hit a 67.

Paul Casey is two shots back, alongside defending champion Brooks Koepka.

English compatriots Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood are also still in the mix a shot further back on six under par after both posting 70s.

The pair were two shots behind the overnight leader, China’s Li Haotong, whose three-over 73 saw him drop to five under for the week.

Fleetwood was also set to lose ground but claimed two birdies in the final three holes to salvage a level-par round and keep himself firmly in contention heading into the final day.

Earlier in the day, Tiger Woods’ search for a fifth US PGA Championship came to an end after he recorded his second straight two-over-par 72 to sit at two over and in a tie for 59th.

The 102nd US PGA was put back from May because of the coronavirus pandemic and is being played with no spectators.

Mixed day for British contingent

Paul Casey playing at the 2020 US PGA Championship
Paul Casey’s best finish in a major is a tie for third at the Open in 2010

Heading into the weekend, there was genuine belief the US PGA could be won by an Englishman for just the second time – and the first since Jim Barnes way back in 1919.

Fleetwood and Rose were two off the lead overnight but made a slow start, with Fleetwood dropping a shot on the third and Rose having three bogeys in the first five holes.

And although Rose recovered with three birdies across the turn, Fleetwood’s putts just would not land and he had another bogey on the 10th.

But just as a congested leaderboard looked to be getting away from the world number 13, Fleetwood’s perseverance paid off with a strong finish to get back to six under with Rose, who also went round in 70.

Casey though, a shot further back overnight, ended his front nine with two birdies to put himself in the chasing pack.

As the battle for the lead intensified, Casey almost sank a birdie on the 17th, but he did enough to creep above his compatriots.

Earlier, Rory McIlroy looked set to boost the British challenge as the 2012 and 2014 champion got to two-under for the day but a run of four bogeys on his last six holes saw him slump to a 71.

Li falls away after thrilling pursuit

Cameron Champ playing at the 2020 US PGA Championship
Champ’s best finish at a major to date was tied-32nd at the 2017 US Open

With the English contingent lurking, and a host of Americans ready to pounce on their own patch, it promised to be an entertaining chase of Li Haotong.

And the year’s first major delivered on day three with 10 players within two shots of the overnight leader as he started his round.

Cameron Champ went out in 33 so a bogey on the fifth for Li saw him join the American on seven under.

He recovered with a birdie on the seventh, at which point there were two shots covering the top 19 players.

Then Scheffler hit three straight birdies to take the outright lead heading to the 18th tee and become the first man to hit nine under for the week, only to finish with a bogey.

Li responded with a birdie on the 12th to regain the lead, but moments later Champ joined him after a birdie on the 14th, before Johnson took charge.

A strong start was set back by a double bogey on the ninth but the world number five shrugged it off, coming home in 31 with the most birdies he has made in a single round at a major.

Li dropped four shots in four holes to fall down the board past the likes of day one leader Jason Day, Collin Morikawa – who shot a 65 – and Bryson DeChambeau, whose 96ft putt saw him finish with a birdie and a four-under 66.

Johnson aiming for major number two – what they said

Dustin Johnson:“I’ve been in contention a lot and I’ve got it done a lot of times. Tomorrow, it’s no different. I’m going to have to play good golf if I want to win.

“It’s simple. I’ve got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that I’m going to have a good chance coming down the stretch on the back nine.

“Just take what the golf course gives me and just keep on going because it doesn’t really matter what other guys are doing. All I can control is myself.”

Paul Casey:“I’ve been on tour for a long time and I obviously would desperately love to add a major to the CV and I’ve had my chances, but I feel incredibly relaxed.

“I have nothing to prove, there’s a great leaderboard that I’m part of with major champions and almost rookies so to speak with the young guys, and we’ve still got an awful lot of golf to play.”

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