Brendon Todd shot a 1-under 69 on Saturday at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
Todd started the third round with a two-stroke lead. He had five birdies and four bogeys to put him at 13-under 198 on a nearly perfect day at TPC Southwind with the temperature in the 70s.
He’s looking for his fourth career PGA TOUR victory and third since last fall. This is Todd’s second 54-hole lead since the TOUR’s return to play. He shot a 75 in the final round of the Travelers Championship and tied for 11th.
Defending champ Brooks Koepka struggled early before he reeled off six birdies in eight holes for a 68. He was fourth at 9 under.
Justin Thomas, who can become No. 1 in the world with a victory here, was fifth at 8 under after a 66. He won on this course in 2018 before the event became a World Golf Championship event in 2019. Phil Mickelson (66) and Louis Ooosthuizen (68) were in a group five strokes back.
Todd started where he left off Friday, rolling in a 14-footer for birdie on No. 1 to reach 12 under. Todd couldn’t get out of the rough on the par-4 No. 5 on the way to only his second bogey of the tournament.
Fowler holed out from the green-side rough on the par-5 third to pull within two. He then joined Todd atop the leaderboard on No. 7. He hit his second shot from 190 yards to 9 feet and made the putt for birdie.
Todd took the lead back to himself on the next hole with a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. Fowler answered with a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 9, making the turn with his third birdie and a share of the lead at 12 under. Todd pushed his own birdie chance just right of the hole.
Fowler took the lead to himself for the first time when Todd bogeyed No. 10 to start the back nine. Todd hit into the rough off the tee and couldn’t sink a 13-footer to save par. Todd sunk a 15-footer for birdie on No. 12, taking back the lead when Fowler two-putted from 13 feet for bogey.
Todd hit his approach 166 yards to 3 feet on No. 13 for his shortest birdie putt of the day and a two-stroke lead. But Todd found the water just short of the green on the par-3 14th and threw his hat in disgust at his shot. A bogey dropped him to 12 under.
He made up for it with a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-5 No. 16 for a two-stroke lead again. But he couldn’t get up and down from the rough off the fringe of the green on No. 17 for his fourth bogey.
Korea’s Byeong Hun An made six birdies for the third straight day on Saturday but it was a massive par save on the last which kept him firmly in the hunt in the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
The 28-year-old An sank a 10-footer on the par 4, 18th hole at TPC Southwind to sign for a 4-under 66, pushing him up to second place and one back of third round leader Brendon Todd. An is chasing a first PGA TOUR victory and seeking to become the first Korean winner in a World Golf Championships event.
“Nice up-and-down on the last, so got some momentum going for tomorrow,” said An.
Starting the day four shots back of Todd, An began his round nicely with a birdie from four feet on the second hole before rolling in a 29-foot birdie putt on the eighth as he continued to reap the rewards of working on his putting with Brad Faxon, an eight-time PGA TOUR winner.
He found trouble on the par 3, 11th hole, misclubbing his tee shot into water for a double bogey but bounced back magnificently with four consecutive birdies from the 13th to 16th holes to put himself on the brink of glory.
“Front nine, didn’t hit it great off the tee and then approach to the green wasn’t great, but I made some good saves. Was steady until the 11th where I hit in the water. That wasn’t that bad. The shot’s 30 yards over the green, but it’s the wrong club. The strike was too good. But coming in I made four birdies in a row, I think that helps,” said An, who sits on 11-under 199.
An, who has made 18 birdies so far to co-lead the category, knows he must stick to the proverbial “hit fairways and greens” to keep himself in the title fight. He is in the final pairing with Todd, who is already a two-time winner this season.
“Hit fairways, greens and try to make as many putts as I can. Scores seem like it’s hanging there, no one’s running away with 16 or 17 under. I think the course is not playing that easy because it’s playing soft which plays longer. So I just need to keep in the fairway and give myself tons of birdie chances. It would be nice if I hit it like yesterday, I hit it a lot better than I did today and gave myself more birdie chances. We’ll see what happens. I tend to change a lot every day, so if I feel great, I’m going to hit it great. I’m putting it well, so just keep both of them pretty tight,” said An, who made his debut in the Presidents Cup for the International Team last December.
In 14 previous starts in World Golf Championships events, An holds one top-10, a tie for ninth at the 2016 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play while he has three career runner-up finishes on the PGA TOUR, with the most recent being at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open. He has five top-10s this season.
Before working with Faxon, An ranked 203rd in Strokes Gained: Putting for the season but is currently ranked 14th through three rounds in Memphis this week.
Countryman Sungjae Im, who is third in the FedExCup points list, enters the final day in T10 following a 69 while Sung Kang slipped back to to tied 22nd place after a 72 on Saturday.
Tom Lewis tied the course record with a 61. He was tied for 10th at 6 under.