Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Golf

Jason Day weathers rough stretch, ties for Bridgestone Invitational lead with Scott Piercy

AKRON, Ohio — Jason Day had no indication Saturday at the Bridge­stone Invitational would be such hard work until one swing.

His plan on No. 8 was to hit a draw with his driver, and the shot started out to the right. Trouble is, it kept going right until he was deep in the trees.

"That came out of nowhere," Day said. "It wasn't just down the right. It was way right. I think it's more of a mental thing when it comes to those ones because when you're sharp and you're on your game and you're hitting it great, you don't miss them that far."

It didn't help that he missed again on the next hole. Then the next one. Or that he hit only three fairways on a Firestone course that demands more.

Day still managed to turn that into 1-under 69 to share the lead with Scott Piercy.

"I felt like Mr. Haverkamp out of Caddyshack trying to find his golf ball and not knowing where the golf hole goes," Day said.

But he could find the bottom of the cup, including three par putts of at least 8 feet.

Piercy, coming off a runner-up finish in the U.S. Open two weeks ago, quickly tied Day for the lead with eagle on the par-5 second hole and was flawless until the final hole. He had a one-shot lead until pulling his tee shot into the left rough, running a low shot through the green and into a back bunker and having to scramble just to escape with bogey and 67.

They were at 5-under 205, the highest leading 54-hole score at this World Golf Championship since 2007.

Nine players remained under par, and given the firm conditions of Firestone, Day believes all have a chance.

David Lingmerth had 69 and was one shot behind. The big move Saturday belonged to U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who hits it a long way and has a short memory.

After warming up on the range, Johnson said he was ready for a great round of golf, adding that "I'm due." The smile suggested he did recall that he played decently at Oakmont two weeks ago.

Johnson was 5 under through 11 holes and closing in on the lead when he played the final seven holes in 1 over for 66. Still, that was enough to get him to 2-under 208, three shots behind, along with Charl Schwartzel (67) and William McGirt (70).

Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo, friends from their junior golf days, were another shot back. Thomas was in much better position until his wedge shot found the water on the par-5 16th, and his fifth shot after a penalty drop nearly went in for par. Thomas then missed a 4-foot putt for double bogey.

The 16th also got the best of Jordan Spieth in a big way.

Spieth was starting to make putts when he debated whether to hit 3-wood on the 654-yard 16th hole, thinking he could keep it away from the water and try to make his birdie from the rough. He played it smartly instead by laying up, only it didn't quite work out that way.

His third shot came up just short and into the water. His next shot went over the green and he couldn't get up-and-down, making triple bogey.

Spieth had 71 and was five back.

PGA: Greg Chalmers birdied five of the final six holes to increase his lead to six points in the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nev., the tour's lone modified Stableford scoring event. Chalmers had seven birdies and bogey for a 15-point round and 39-point total at Montreux in the scoring system that awards eight points for double eagle, five for eagle and two for birdie and deducts a point for bogey and three for double bogey or worse. Ben Martin and Gary Woodland were tied for second.

LPGA: Defending champion Brooke Henderson continued her mastery of Columbia Edgewater Country Club, shooting 70 to take a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Portland (Ore.) Classic. Henderson, 18, who claimed her first LPGA win a year ago in Portland, was at 13-under 203. Mariajo Uribe was at 11-under after 71. Suzann Pettersen, tied for the lead with Henderson after the second round, faded to 9-under after 74.

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