LOS ANGELES: Daniel Berger shook off a double bogey with two late birdies to retain a three-shot lead on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) after three rounds of the US PGA Tour St. Jude Classic.
Berger’s miscue at the 14th, where he hit into the water and took a double-bogey five, briefly opened the door to five-time major winner Phil Mickelson.
But Berger rallied to card a one-under par 69 at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. His 10-under total of 200 put him three shots in front of Mickelson, Steve Stricker and D.A. Points going into the final round of the last tune-up for next week’s US Open at Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
Mickelson, who will be seeking the US Open title that has long eluded him at Oakmont, grabbed a share of the lead with a seven-foot birdie putt at 16.
But he made his only bogey of the day at the next hole. He closed with a chip-in for par at 18.
Despite the sultry heat, Mickelson headed to the range to work on his swing after the round.
“My rhythm has been a little bit quick,” he said. “I’ve managed it so far and I’ve been putting really well.
“I know it’s about to click,” he added. “Hopefully I’ll find it for tomorrow’s round because it’s only going to take a few more fairways hit and a few more birdie opportunities the way I’m putting to try to get this done.”
Berger, seeking his first PGA Tour title, said he wouldn’t worry about having a five-time major winner on his heels.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s golf,” he said. “The golf course doesn’t know who is playing it, so I’m just going to go out there and be aggressive and have some fun, and that’s all I can do.”
Points, playing well in advance of the overnight leaders, drained a 15-foot birdie putt at 18 to cap a bogey-free 64, while Stricker carded a bogey-free 66.
Brooks Koepka rebounded from two bogeys late on the front nine with two birdies coming in for a 69 that left him tied on 204 with South Korea’s Noh Seung-Yul and American Colt Knost, who both shot 67.
Dustin Johnson, the 2012 winner in Memphis and the highest-ranked player in the field at sixth in the world, carded a 73 to fall eight adrift.