Winning a World Golf Championship event easily would be the biggest victory of Brendon Todd’s career.
He has a recent reminder of how to best protect a lead in the final round — even if that memory is a bit painful.
Todd had a two-stroke lead going into the final round at the Travelers Championship in late June only to shoot a 75 and tie for 11th. He shot a 1-under-par 69 on Saturday at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tenn., to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of this World Golf Championship event.
“What I learned at the Travelers is just you cannot control the result, you can’t control the way you’re going to feel, where the ball’s going to land, if putts are going to go in ...,” Todd said. “The best players in the world treat each final round like it’s just another day, and they just go out there and try to execute and stick to their game and let the results fall as they do.”
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.
Todd is looking for his fourth career victory and third since last fall. This is Todd’s second 54-hole lead since the PGA Tour’s return to play. He shot a 75 in the final round of the Travelers Championship and tied for 11th.
“I’m excited to be in this position and feel like if I can go out there and swing a little better and keep this putting momentum going, I’ll be in good shape,” Todd said.
Byeong Hun An of South Korea, who had four straight birdies on the back nine, finished with a 66. Rickie Fowler was two strokes back after a 69.
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 in 2019.
“I kind of found something those last 12 holes where I really started hitting some good putts and making them with good speed,” Thomas said. “Yeah, it was nice to shoot 4 under on that back nine to give myself somewhat of a chance.”
LPGA — Danielle Kang returned from a 45-minute rain delay with two straight birdies. By the end of the round, she was happy to have a share of the lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio.
Kang followed her back-to-back birdies with three straight bogeys, another birdie and finally a 4-foot par on the final hole to salvage a 1-over 73 and tie Celine Boutier and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Inverness Club, already a tough test that will host the Solheim Cup next year, was even more of a challenge in wet weather and a little more wind. Only two players, including Sarah Schmelzel, broke 70.
Champions — Champions Brett Quigley was so excited to be competing again he could barely break par. He settled down for an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead in the Ally Challenge, the first PGA Tour Champions event in five months.
Quigley played bogey-free at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Mich. Monday qualifier Carlos Franco also had a 64 with two eagles and was in the group one shot behind that included Jim Furyk (66) in his debut on the 50-and-older circuit.
European —Sam Horsfield will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the Hero Open despite leading by six strokes at one stage in the third round of the Hero Open in Birmingham, England. After holding a share of the overnight lead, the Englishman made five birdies on the front nine and looked in total control at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club.
But Horsfield would make just one gain on the way home, giving up three bogeys and a double to sign for a 1-under 71 and a 14-under 202 total that left him one shot ahead of Wales’ Oliver Farr, Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard and Mikko Korhonen of Finland.
Branden Grace tested positive for the coronavirus, a double blow to the South African who was one birdie out of the lead at the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, Calif., and now can’t play next week in the PGA Championship.
Grace was at 20 points in the modified Stableford scoring system in the tournament, two points out of the lead and in the penultimate pairing at Old Greenwood Golf Course. But he felt tired Friday night and thought it had to do with playing in altitude. He was tested to be sure, and it came back positive and he withdrew.