Fleetwood closes on leader Varner in Saudi

Adri Arnaus sits a shot behind Varner in second, with Fleetwood two strokes back in third as he chases a first worldwide victory since 2019; defending champion Dustin Johnson is five behind after a three-under 67

By Ali Stafford

Last Updated: 05/02/22 3:14pm

Tommy Fleetwood is in contention at the Saudi International Tommy Fleetwood is in contention at the Saudi International

Tommy Fleetwood is in contention at the Saudi International

Harold Varner III takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood among the chasing pack.

Varner’s final-hole birdie close a two-under 68 on the par-70 layout at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, lifting the American to 12 under a shot clear of Spain’s Adri Arnaus.

Fleetwood mixed six birdies with three bogeys on his way to a three-under 67, jumping him within two of the lead, with Australia’s Cameron Smith four off the pace on eight under.

„On days when you know it’s going to be really hard, you don’t really want to be giving too many shots away, especially the start,“ said Fleetwood, who opened with a bogey.

„But after that, played really, really well. Scored well. Made more birdies than I thought I would do today probably. Just hit a lot of really good iron shots and gave myself chances. It was hard all day.“

Defending champion Dustin Johnson is tied-fifth with Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Ryosuke Kinoshita, with England’s Steve Lewton in the group tied-eight that also includes two-time major champion Bubba Watson and Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele.

Matthew Wolff slipped out of contention after registering six bogeys and a double-bogey in a third-round 73, while Paul Casey birdied five of his last eight holes to card a six-under 64.

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„When I’ve had an important par save, I’ve not really been making those putts or pulling off the shot,“ Casey said. „Today that was the difference.“