DeChambeau takes 1 shot lead as Woods lurks at MemorialWritten by Doug Ferguson/ Associated Press
DUBLIN, Ohio — Bryson DeChambeau finished off a 6-under 66 with birdies on two of the toughest holes, giving him a one-shot lead going into a final round at a Memorial that features Tiger Woods in the mix at Muirfield Village for the first time in six years.
Woods was in total control of his shots for the second straight day, only to miss short putts down the stretch that spoiled his run. He was briefly tied for the lead Saturday until three-putt bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes, and he had to settle for a 68. He was five shots behind.
Woods wasn’t alone in missing short putts.
Walking off the course with his first 54-hole lead, DeChambeau couldn’t but help but think of the two that got away. He missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, and then missed a birdie putt from 4 feet on the par-5 15th.
With the course soft and vulnerable to low scores, it was tough to leave shots on the course.
“Just keep thinking about those two 3-footers I missed,” said DeChambeau, who was at 14-under 202. “I played great, obviously. Ecstatic about where I am.”
DeChambeau wasn’t even sure where he was when he finished because so many players worked their way up and down the leaderboard over the final two hours. He wound up with a one-shot lead over Kyle Stanley, who bogeyed the 18th hole from the bunker for a 70; Patrick Cantlay, who drove into the creek left of the 18th fairway for a bogey and a 66; and Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old from Chile who atoned for one big mistake on the 15th hole with a birdie on the 18th for a 70.
Cantlay made two eagles, including a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth. DeChambeau rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the par-3 16th, the third-toughest at Muirfield Village in the third round, and he hit 9-iron to 5 feet on the toughest hole , the 18th.
Six players had at least a share of the lead at some point.
Byeong Hun An played bogey-free for a 69 and was two shots behind, while Justin Rose dropped two shots over the last three holes for a 69 and was four back.
Woods played the last five holes of the front nine in 5 under, starting with his second eagle of the week. And then he stalled, just like he did on Friday. He didn’t make another birdie until the par-5 15th, when his sharp-breaking 15-footer dropped to give him a tie for the lead.
That didn’t last long. Woods ran his 45-foot birdie putt about 7 feet by on the par-3 16th and missed it coming back, and then closed by missing a 3-foot par putt.
“I know I shot 68 today, but again, that’s probably the highest score I could have possibly shot,” Woods said. “I played really, really well. I played beautifully, actually. Had total control of what I was doing out there and just didn’t finish it off.”
He won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012, finished 20 shots behind the following year and then injuries took over. He finished in last place in 2015, the last time he was at Muirfield Village.
This year has produced the kind of golf Ohio fans are used to seeing. And the weather is about par for Muirfield Village, with more thunderstorms expected Sunday. The final round will be threesomes teeing off earlier than usual to account for the forecast.
“The weather is going to be a little iffy,” Woods said. “But I’m in a position where if I shoot another good round like I had the last two days, I’ve got a chance.”
Rory McIlroy, remarkably, has reason to feel the same way.
McIlroy nearly missed the cut, surviving on the number after two days. He played bogey-free for a 64 and wound up just six shots behind. Just like Woods and DeChambeau, he had a few regrets on the greens. McIlroy missed three birdie chances inside 8 feet.
Rose has a chance to reach No. 1 in the world with a runner-up finish, depending on what Justin Thomas does Sunday. Thomas shot a 68 with three bogeys and was seven off the lead.
Along with making his second ace of the season, Cantlay blistered a 4-iron as far as he can hit it on the par-5 15th, the ball landing just short of the green and stopping 4 feet away.
Niemann also made an eagle with a 50-foot putt on the par-5 seventh hole. It was his bid for another eagle that cost him. Going for the green at No. 15, the teenager flared it out to the right and it caught the corner of a creek, leading to bogey.
He still was in good shape to win in just his fifth start on the PGA Tour.