Tony Finau closed with a 25-foot birdie putt to share the lead with four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open.
World No 18 Finau matched the low round of his PGA career with an eight-under-par 62 while eighth-ranked McIlroy fired a 65 to stand on 11-under 199 after 54 holes at St George’s Golf and Country Club in suburban Toronto.
“I didn’t finish the way I wanted to yesterday,” Finau said after two late bogeys Friday. “I think all it did was light a fire in my belly to get after it today. That’s pretty much what I did. I made some birdies and I just played really clean golf.”
Finau, whose PGA Tour titles include the 2016 Puerto Rico Open and 2021 Northern Trust, needed only 24 putts in the round.
“It has been trial and error with me and my putter. I’ve been working hard on it,” he said. “It’s starting to pay dividends for me. I saw a lot of them go in today. It was nice.”
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy – the 2019 winner and defending champion after Covid-19 caused a two-year hiatus – was cheered at every hole.
“All aspects were really good,” McIlroy said. “I drove it a lot better off the tees. My wedge game was a little better and my short game bailed me out a couple of times.”
McIlroy is chasing his 21st PGA Tour victory and first since last October’s CJ Cup in Las Vegas.
“I’ve played some good golf this year without getting a win,” McIlroy said. “I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Sort of just give myself a number and try not to look at the guys around me too much.”
Sixth-ranked Justin Thomas, coming off his second Major triumph at last month’s PGA Championship, will join the co-leaders in Sunday’s last trio.
Thomas made four birdies and an eagle in the last 10 holes in shooting a bogey-free 63 to share third on 201 with fellow Americans Sam Burns, Wyndham Clark and Alex Smalley.
“I played really solid. I didn’t do anything great, I just didn’t do anything bad,” Thomas said. “I took advantage of some opportunities when I had them there in the middle of the course and just stayed patient and waited for my run.”
McIlroy sank a 22-foot birdie putt at the par-four 4th and made another from just inside 38 feet at the par-four 7th.
After a bogey at the par-three 8th, he made tap-in birdies at the par-five 9th and 11th holes and another at the par-four 12th after dropping his approach inches from the cup.
At the par-five 15th, McIlroy sent his approach over the green and down a cart path but pitched to eight feet and tied Finau by sinking the birdie putt.
Finau opened with a birdie and sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 6th, then launched an impressive run with an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-three 8th.
Finau drove the green in two at the par-five 9th and sank a 37-foot eagle putt, then followed with birdies at 10 and 11 for a three-stroke lead.
“When I made an eagle on nine I knew then I was like, oh, wow, we’re climbing up that leaderboard,” Finau said.
But he found a greenside bunker and made bogey at the par-four 12th while Thomas reeled off three straight birdies with a three-footer at the 9th, a four-footer at the 10th and a five-footer at the par-five 11th.
Thomas added a six-foot birdie putt at 14 and landed his second shot inches from the cup for a tap-in eagle at the par-five 15th.
Finau holed out from just outside 47 feet at the par-four 14th to reclaim the lead.
© Agence France-Presse