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Golf roundup

Todd shoots 1-under 69 for 54-hole lead at WGC in Memphis

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 69 on Saturday at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational 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.

The 35-year-old Georgian 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.”

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.

“That’s the easiest to put on the green, to not hit in the water,” Todd said. “It was a swing that was out of rhythm that was a little bit too often today and to know I hit the water there, it made me pretty mad.”

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.

Todd has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead on tour five times in his career with four of those since last fall. That's the most of any player this season.

Tom Lewis matched the course record with a 61 last shot by Bob Estes in 2001. Jay Delsing first set the record in 1993 when this course was a par 71.

Quigley shoots 64 for 1-shot lead in Champions tour return

Brett Quigley was so excited to be competing again he could barely break par. He settled down Saturday 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. 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.

Tommy Armour also was within one shot of the lead after a birdie on the once-rowdy par-3 17th and an 8-foot par save from the back bunker for a 68.

Quigley was at 11-under 133 as he tries to win for the second time this year on the PGA Tour Champions. He won a new tournament in Morocco, and just over a month later, the tour shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He couldn't wait to get started again, and then he promptly bogeyed his opening hole on Friday.

“I was trying to shoot 20 under the front nine yesterday. I was just trying to force everything after being off for so long,” Quigley said. “A little more relaxed today. ... Made a bunch of birdies it looks pretty good.”

Furyk looms as perhaps his biggest challenger.

He was among three players, including Mike Weir and K.J. Choi, who turned 50 while the PGA Tour Champions was shut down. Furyk, a past winner at Warwick Hills when it hosted the Buick Open on the PGA Tour, will try to become the first player to win his Champions debut since Miguel Angel Jimenez at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in 2014.

Furyk won the Buick Open in 2003 and twice was a runner-up. On the PGA Tour, he shot par or better 59 out of his 60 rounds at Warwick Hills. He said the secret was to keep it in the short grass and take advantage of wedges and short irons. That worked when he was younger, and he expects the same now.

“When I was playing well, I did a lot of damage here,” Furyk said.

Furyk is still among the top 100 in the world ranking and will play in the PGA Championship next week. But he hasn't won since the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in 2015, and he hasn't had many chances.

“I'm looking forward to getting in the mix, having some nerves," Furyk said. “I've got a lot of experience to fall back on, but it will still be a little new.”

Armour and Billy Andrade shared the lead after the first day, and only Armour stayed in the mix with a few key putts at the end. Andrade didn't make a birdie until the 16th hole and fell out of contention with a 74.

Bernhard Langer, the Charles Schwab Cup leader, also fell back at the end of his round. He was within two of the lead until bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes. That gave him a 70, and he was four shots behind.

At the Buick Open, the gallery at the par-3 17th was notoriously rowdy, though not quite Phoenix Open levels. Because there are no spectators, the PGA Tour Champions had a video board behind the green that showed fans cheering. It wasn't much, but it was something.

“It's such an exciting area for all of us,” Quigley said. “You just look forward to that energy, and then for it not to be there yesterday, and then to finally hear some of it today was a little back to normal golf. It is a little eerie out here not having fans.”

Kang survives wild back nine to share lead at Inverness

Danielle Kang returned from a 45-minute rain delay with two straight birdies. By the end of the round Saturday, she was happy to have a share of the lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship.

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.

Boutier and Ewart Shadoff played in the morning before the harshest of the weather. Boutier had four birdies over her last 10 holes to offset a few mistakes and shot 71. Ewart Shadoff, still searching for her first LPGA Tour victory, overcame a double bogey on the 15th hole with a birdie on the 18th. She shot 72.

They were at 5-under 139 in the LPGA Tour's first event since the Women's Australian Open on Feb. 16. Inverness is hosting the one-time event, with the LPGA staying in northeast Ohio next week before heading to Scotland.

For the leaders, it was all about the recovery.

“I think it was a little bit of lapse of concentration on 15,” Ewart Shadoff said of her double bogey. “I just told myself, 'Just try and get a birdie coming in. Even (par) is a pretty solid score out here today.”

No one was on a wilder ride than Kang, the No. 4 player in the world and a former Women's PGA champion.

After the delay, she birdied the 11th hole and then found herself in a bunker right of the 12th green with little green between her and the hole. She splashed it out perfectly, it checked up and curled into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

And then the bogeys followed. Kang said it didn't help that her group fell behind and they were being timed for most of the back nine as she tried to figure out how weather was affecting shots while keeping her grips dry.

“There was a lot of rushing for us,” she said. “We were on the clock for over 10 holes. I haven't played on the clock for a long time. The golf course conditions are completely different. Yesterday I hit a 7-iron from 180 yards. Today it was a 4- or 5-iron. That was the case for everybody.”

Even as she went from leading to trailing, she kept her cool after a third straight bogey, reminding herself she had three holes left.

“I knew I was getting hasty,” Kang said. “I started walking slower. I had to give myself a birdie opportunity. On 17, I had the exact same number I had on 15.”

She came up well short on the 15th by taking a little off, not knowing how far it would go. She went at it hard on the 17th to set up birdie, and he made the par putt on the final hole to get back into a share of the lead.

Boutier returned with some form, having won the Women's Texas Open in June at Old American, site of an LPGA Tour event later in the year. Boutier, from France, now lives in the Dallas area. Playing in whatever tournaments she could find kept her motivated to practice.

“When you don't have tournaments for three months, sometimes you don't even want to go to the course,” she said. “So the fact that I had a couple tournaments, I had something to look forward to and some kind of competition was nice.”

Schmelzel had a 69 to match Yui Kawamoto (71) at 3 under. Minjee Lee (73), Amy Olson (73), Sarah Burnham (72) and Lee-Anne Pace (74) were 2 under.

The cut was at 6-over 150, and Lydia Ko had to struggle to make it to Sunday in the 54-hole event. Ko opened with a 69 and shot an 80 on Saturday to make it with one shot to spare.

Nelly Korda, at No. 2 the highest-ranked player in the field, had a 74 and made it on the number. Lexi Thompson bogeyed her last hole for a 72 and was at 145, six shots off the lead in a tie for 20th.

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