Golf: Horschel pulls clear with sizzling 65 at Memorial

Billy Horschel plays his shot from the 15th tee, during the third round of the Memorial Tournament. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Billy Horschel fired a brilliant seven-under-par 65 to take a commanding five-shot lead after the third round of the PGA Tour's Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio on Saturday (June 4).

Horschel's superb short play engineered seven birdies in a flawless bogey-free round that saw the American pull clear at the top of the leaderboard at 13-under 203 after 54 holes.

The 35-year-old world number 17, chasing the seventh PGA Tour victory of his career, set the tone for a spectacular round after chipping in from just off the green on the par-four first hole from 44 feet to claim his opening birdie.

He rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-five fifth, and then grabbed another on the seventh when his wedge from 114 yards landed within four feet of the cup.

Another birdie followed on the par-3 eighth when Horschel's tee-shot left him with a six-foot putt, and three more birdies after the turn completed a magnificent round.

It marked a stark contrast from Horschel's outing at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial last week, when he failed to reach the weekend after missing the cut.

"I just don't like missing cuts, simple as that. I don't miss a lot of them and when I do I get ticked off about it," said Horschel, who has posted just one bogey through three rounds this week.

"We just haven't played well, the swing hasn't been good enough, and the putting hasn't been good enough.

"I just said this week, 'Forget it. I'm going to go out there and try and win this thing' and get back to the mindset that I'm one of the top players in the world and I can compete anywhere against anybody," he added.

Aaron Wise and second-round leader Cameron Smith head the chasing pack, five shots off the lead at eight under.

Wise vaulted up the leaderboard with a 69 while Smith recovered from a bogey-bogey start to scramble his way to a 72.

"Golf is a crazy game," Smith said afterwards. "You've got to try and get as much out of it as you can. I feel as though my good is really good, and my bad is getting better.

"There was lots of not-so-good stuff out there today, and I just stuck in there," the Australian added.

"Managed to have a couple of birdies on that back nine, and just nice to get away with level par and keep myself in the tournament."

Daniel Berger jumped 20 places up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth alongside Francesco Molinari and Jhonattan Vegas after a 67.

Berger, Molinari and Vegas are six off the lead at seven under.

Behind them are a cluster of five players at six under that includes Patrick Cantlay, winner at Memorial in 2019 and 2021, Chile's Joaquin Niemann, Luke List, Davis Riley and Denny McCarthy.

Rory McIlroy struggled to a one-over 73 to fade from contention at four under, nine off the pace.

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