Golf: Thomas and Steele set for PGA Tour final-round dogfight in Malaysia

Justin Thomas of the US tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the 2015 CIMB Classic golf tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Justin Thomas of the US tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the 2015 CIMB Classic golf tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - American golfer Justin Thomas produced a tidy up-and-down from the back of the 18th green for birdie, to ensure he went into Sunday's final round of the CIMB Classic tied for the lead with compatriot Brendan Steele.

Overnight leader Thomas, who flirted with a rare 59 before signing for an 11-under-par second round of 61, was again among the birdies on another day of low scores at the Kuala Lumpur Country Club, where preferred lies have been in use.

The 22-year-old mixed eight birdies with three bogeys in his third round of 67 to sit on 20-under 196 for the US$7 million (S$9.8 million) co-sanctioned Asian Tour event, the third of the new PGA Tour season.

Thomas is looking for his first win on the American circuit, while Steele has won just once, at the 2011 Texas Open.

The 32-year-old Californian Steele was again solid on Saturday, firing a bogey free 66. He has not dropped a shot since Thursday.

South Korean-born American Kevin Na has good memories of Malaysia after winning his first Asian Tour event in the country in 2002 and the 32-year-old put himself in position to notch another after a blistering 64 on Saturday.

That nine birdie effort left Na, who has finished second or tied in the opening two events of the campaign, one back of Thomas and Steele on 19-under.

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama fired a 68 on Saturday to sit tied fourth on 17-under alongside American trio James Hahn (64), Brian Harman (66) and Spencer Levin (68), with former world No. 1 Adam Scott (66) a further shot back on 16-under.

Singapore's Mardan Mamat who turned 48 on the day, carded a 74, his third straight over-par round, to stand joint second last on five-over 221.