Golf: Dustin Johnson opens door to rivals at Tour C'ship,shares lead with Kevin Chappell

Dustin Johnson makes birdie on the 15th hole during the third round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Sept 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dustin Johnson makes birdie on the 15th hole during the third round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Sept 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Thoughts of a Dustin Johnson runaway at the Tour Championship were dispelled when he faltered late to fall back into a tie for the third-round lead with fellow American Kevin Chappell in Atlanta on Saturday.

Johnson, the hottest player in the game coming off a victory, squandered a chance to take a stranglehold on the tournament when he double-bogeyed the par-four 17th, compounding a poor drive by clipping a pine tree with his second shot.

He was on the wrong end of a three-shot swing as Chappell birdied the same hole from 10 feet.

US Open champion Johnson steadied the ship to birdie the par-five 18th for a one-under 69, his eighth consecutive round in the 60s but one that left him ruing what might have been.

"This course is very difficult off the tee and I missed a couple of drives on the back nine and made a couple of bogeys and a bad double bogey there on the 17th," he said before accentuating the positives. "I'm happy with my position. I felt like I played well today. A couple of loose drives and it's easy to make bogeys around here ... so if I make a mistake, I don't let it bother me."

Chappell fired 68 to join Johnson at eight-under 202.

Johnson's stumble let a bunch of players back into the hunt, with Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (66) and American Ryan Moore (66) two shots behind, and Japanese Hideki Matsuyama (68) three back despite a triple-bogey at the 14th.

Johnson, top seed in the FedExCup standings, will clinch the season-long points race and its US$10 million (S$13.6 million) bonus if he wins the tournament on Sunday.