Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters share WGC lead going into final round at Firestone

AKRON, Ohio — Thomas Pieters finds golf to be a lot more enjoyable when he's playing from the fairway.

Sometimes, that includes another fairway.

The big hitter from Belgium ripped a fairway metal from the third fairway at Firestone over the trees and onto the green at the par-5 second, leading to one of three straight birdies to start the third round at the Bridgestone Invitational. Pieters needed another long shot — a 30-foot birdie putt that rammed into the back of the cup — to cap off a wild 4-under 66 and a share of the lead with Zach Johnson.

Johnson, who watched Rory McIlroy blast drives 300 yards or more all day, showed an efficient wedge game works, too. Just like Pieters, he had eight birdies in a round of 65 and holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole.

Pieters and Johnson were at 9-under 201 going into today's final round.

Johnson hasn't won since 2015 when he captured his second major at St. Andrews, and he's just now starting to find some form with his short game. Pieters is a three-time winner on the European Tour who showed his potential at the Ryder Cup last year and now has his best chance to win in America since winning the NCAA title while playing for Illinois.

"First eight holes I was in the fairway, hit good shots, made putts," Pieters said. "And the last 11 is a struggle. I just was out of position every hole. (Today) I've just got to … hit fairways. That's it."

Johnson only missed two fairways. More importantly, he's giving himself chances and converted.

"Honing in the wedges with that distance control has been the key, and I think especially the scoring irons," Johnson said. "And then on a course like this, you've got to hit the ball in the fairway. This is the best I've driven it probably all year."

He said that after playing with McIlroy, who now has hit 39 out of his 42 drives at Firestone at least 300 yards. McIlroy, however, had to settle for 68 that left him three shots behind.

One shot off the lead was Australia's Scott Hend, who got into his first Bridgestone on a loophole and posted 63. The World Golf Championship set aside one spot for the winner of a designated event on the Asian Tour. When that tournament never came together, organizers agreed to take the winner of the Order of Merit from the previous year.

Hideki Matsuyama shot 67 and was two shots behind.

WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN: I.K. Kim stood on the first tee at St. Andrews, Scotland, and seemed to have everything going against her: The wind was rising, heavy rain was falling and the temperature was dropping.

If that wasn't enough, Inbee Park had just toured Kingsbarns Links in a course record-tying 64 and was one shot back. Stacy Lewis, another past Open winner, was another shot back after 65.

Kim answered every challenge, shooting bogey-free 66 to move to 17-under 199 and a six-shot lead over Georgia Hall (70) and Moriya Jutanugarn (67), older sister of defending champ Ariya Jutanugarn. Lexi Thompson, who started the third round two shots behind, stumbled to 74 and wound up 10 shots back.

Kim, five years removed from infamously missing a 1-foot putt to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship, now is poised for redemption with her first major: "I have finally been able to let go of that. I was disappointed with my golf after 2012. I criticized myself too much, which is not healthy."

CHAMPIONS: Paul Goydos shot a tourney-record 60 to tie Kenny Perry (65) and Gene Sauers (64) at 12-under 130 for a one-shot lead after two rounds of the 3M Championship in Blaine, Min. Goydos, who shot 59 at the PGA's 2010 John Deere Classic, was 7 under through 12 holes, before birdies at 15, 16 and 17 and eagle on the par-5 18th.

Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters share WGC lead going into final round at Firestone 08/05/17 [Last modified: Saturday, August 5, 2017 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Steven Souza's two passions collide in charity fantasy football event

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Steven Souza knows a thing or two about football.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 23, 2017.
  2. Vibe is good around Clearwater volleyball this season

    Volleyball Preps

    CLEARWATER — Katy Rice knows what a good volleyball team looks like, and the Clearwater coach believes she has a pretty good one this year. Rice was a left-side hitter on the only two teams to win a volleyball state championship at Clearwater, in 1997 and 2000.

    Clearwater High School girl's volleyball player Hailey Bosetti (OPP) plays the ball during team practice on Monday (8/14/17) at the school in Clearwater.
  3. Jameis Winston's subtle but strong moment of leadership displayed on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs' preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: 'I got your back.'

    Then he proved it.

    Jameis Winston sarcastically tells offensive linemen James Stone and James Harrison he's glad glad they're having fun while quarterback Ryan Griffin is being attended to in the locker room by the Bucs medical staff. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Highlights — and fights — from Jacksonville

    Bucs

    Greg Auman is back home after two days of joint practices between the Bucs and Jaguars in Jacksonville. He recaps those practices — and fights — and talks about highlights from Tuesday's episode …

    Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Kenneth Walker, right, cannot snag a pass against Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith during a joint NFL football practice Monday in Jacksonville. [Will Dickey/Florida Times-Union]
  5. Who's No. 2: Florida State Seminoles or Ohio State Buckeyes?

    Blogs

    The toughest decision in my first stint as a voter for the AP Top 25 came at the top.